Lebanese Navy Intercepts Ship Carrying Weapons from Libya To Syrian Terrorists

Lebanon detains 11 after consignment of arms found on ship


Lebanese authorities have impounded a ship after a large consignment of arms and ammunition were found on board.

Eleven crew members of the Lutfallah II have been detained.

It is believed the consignment was destined for rebels in Syria and was due to unload in Tripoli in northern Lebanon.

Lebanon said it had intercepted three containers of heavy machine guns, artillery shells, rockets, rocket launchers and other explosives destined for rebel forces on a ship originating in Libya.

Syrian authorities have repeatedly charged that weapons are being smuggled from Lebanon to rebels.

Yesterday, government newspaper Tishrin wrote that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “avoids talking about abuses by armed groups and focuses his blame solely on Syria, as usual. He encourages these groups to continue to commit more crimes and terrorist acts.”

The Russian foreign ministry said “we are convinced that the terrorists operating in Syria need a decisive rebuff, and that all domestic and outside players need to prevent any support” from reaching the rebel forces.

Government troops killed at least ten rebel fighters in the Damascus region on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Twenty-two civilians also died – eight in flashpoint central Hama, two in nearby Homs, three in Idlib near the Turkish border, four in Aleppo, four in Damascus province and one in Al-Raqqah in the northeast.

Separately, the official SANA news agency reported three soldiers and two “terrorists” killed in Syria’s second-biggest city Aleppo in clashes between troops and “armed terrorist groups.”

An activist said the fighting began as “officers and soldiers of a military base near the presidential palace… deserted with their weapons.”

And in what was believed to be the first case of Westerners going missing in the violence-swept country, Budapest said two Hungarians had been kidnapped.

Reports from Syria cannot be independently verified as state authorities have barred international journalists and rights groups.

A truce of sorts, which technically came into effect on 12 April, has taken a daily battering, and the European Union on Friday expressed extreme concern about the persistent bloodshed.

The latest violence came as veteran Norwegian peacekeeper Major General Robert Mood was en route for Syria to take the helm of a fledgling monitoring mission after being appointed by Mr Ban, diplomats said.

General Mood takes over a mission already facing major obstacles before the full 300-member force approved by the UN Security Council has even gathered.

He has himself highlighted the “abyss of suspicion” between President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition, in the face of an uprising that has killed more than 9,000 people since March 2011, according to UN figures.

Can the Northern Alliance Forces Win the Next Round?

Will the Northern Alliance fight?

Published: April 29, 2012

The writer is Director South Asian Media School, Lahore khaled.ahmed@tribune.com.pk

The Americans are leaving behind an Afghan National Army (ANA) which is more than 250,000-strong, and historically the largest in a country ravaged by state failure. Its officers’ corps is filled by a majority of non-Pashtuns: Uzbeks, Tajiks and Hazaras. The rank and file is plurally dominant Pashtun, apparently undivided but subject to intimidation by the Taliban.

Chances are that the ANA will fall apart after the Americans leave. But one must remember that even in a state of internal division, all of them hate the Taliban. The Afghan Pashtuns who have been polled also show that they overwhelmingly hate the Taliban. The ANA will be somewhat buttressed by the US which has pledged to maintain its military presence in Afghanistan till 2014 in a strategic agreement with Kabul to be signed in Chicago next month.

Dilip Hiro’s latest book Apocalyptic Realm: Jihadists in South Asia(Yale University Press 2012) talks about the past muster of the Afghan Army after the Soviets left: “The civil war erupted about three years after the pullout by the Soviet Union. On the eve of their departure, Afghan president Najibullah declared a state of emergency and appointed a new 22-member Supreme Council for the Soviet military academies, and raised 45,000 Special Guards to replace the departed Soviet troops…In March 1989, his soldiers frustrated a bid by Afghan Mujahedin’s interim government to capture Jalalabad”.

Najibullah, in January 1990, gave autonomy to Hazaras and Uzbeks, which won him the backing of the ten thousand-strong Uzbek militia led by General Abdul Rashid Dostum, who defected from the Mujahedin camp. Yet, his rival Tajik warlord Ahmad Shah Massoud boasted the best army in Afghanistan, numbering 30,000. Will the Tajik faction inside the ANA now fight the Taliban after the American exit?

Will someone additionally help by binding the Uzbek-Tajik rift in the Northern Alliance? Hiro tells us that in the past, when Pak-Saudi backing sent the Taliban into Afghanistan, Iran and the Central Asian states panicked and approached Russia for help: “Central Asia and Russia remain resolutely opposed to the Taliban while Iran tries to juggle its position between the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, stiffly opposing the US, and maintaining clandestine contacts with the Taliban”.

The Shanghai Cooperation Council (SCO) has six members: Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. It assumed anti-terrorism functions in 1998, held military exercises in 2000, established a secretariat in 2004 and changed its name from the Shanghai Five to SCO in June 2001 when it admitted Uzbekistan as the sixth member. Russia doesn’t want the Americans to leave Afghanistan. It describes terrorism as “threat from failing states” which is presumably how it looks at Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Will the Central Asians again seek help from Russia? “In 1989 after the exit of the Soviets, the Taliban’s triumph alarmed the five Central Asian republics. Their leaders met in the Kazakh capital of Alma Aty on October 4-5. The Uzbek president, Islam Karimov, urged his counterparts to strengthen Dostum’s Northern Alliance government, which controlled six provinces. He provided it with military and economic aid”.

This time the war is going to be more chaotic. The Pakistan-backed Haqqani network sits atop all of the Punjabi non-state actors that Pakistan is scared of: the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, the Jaish-i-Muhammad, Uzbek warriors of IMU and all others that Pakistan evacuated from Kunduz after 2001 when Dostum fell on them in the wake of American invasion. If the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan has had a decade in which to prepare itself against Pakistan, the non-state actors of Pakistan are also sure about what they will do to Pakistan after triumphing in Afghanistan.

Published in The Express Tribune

Kazakhstan To Erect 2.5 thousand kilometer Fence On the border with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan – Fergana – International News Agency

Kazakhstan will strengthen the border with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan




Kazakhstan to build on the border with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, the system of engineering structures with a total length of about 2.5 thousand kilometers, according to Tengrinews.kz . Director of the Border Guard Service (PS) KNB Nurzhan Myrzaliev talked about this on the sidelines of the 67th meeting of the Council of Commanders of border troops of CIS countries.

Civil Engineering from the region Zhetysai (South Kazakhstan) to the Caspian Sea will be built in 2012, which will strengthen the southern borders of Kazakhstan.

Such structures left over from Soviet times, successfully working on the border with China and act on the borders of the CIS in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Strengthening the border will contribute to the fight against illegal migration, human trafficking, drug trafficking and terrorism.

The international news agency “Fergana”

via  – Fergana – International News Agency.

Dictators Supporting Other Dictators

 against honey bees ::.


Lukashenko and Berdymukhamedov will work together to protect human rights.

Belarus and Turkmenistan have agreed to continue the practice of mutual support for initiatives and candidates of the two countries in international organizations, as well as interact on international platforms on the issue of human rights.

This is stated in the joint Belarusian-Turkmen communiqué, which is now on the results of the talks held in Minsk have signed Alexander Lukashenko and Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov .

There is no doubt the way in which Belarusian and Turkmen regime may “protect” human rights. In violation of these rights, both succeeded the dictator. From the report of the UN Committee on Human Rights, published this month, it is clear that the tools of repression with Lukashenko and Berdymukhamedov is not much different – there are restricting access to the Internet, torture and humiliation of prisoners, harassment of journalists and human rights, denial of entry into the country international observers.

Among the major issues of concern, the Committee called the denial of freedom of expression, suppression of civic engagement, torture and ill-treatment in detention and the lack of judicial independence.

As part of the infringement of freedom of speech and the suppression of civil activism Committee expressed concern at the fact that the government “systematically failed to comply with freedom of expression”, “harassed and intimidated journalists and human rights,” as in “tracks Internet usage and blocks access to certain sites.”

The Committee criticized the government of Turkmenistan in connection with “refusal to issue visas to international human rights organizations,” referring to the long-term prevention of the country independent human rights observers, including at least 10 UN Special Rapporteurs, the International Committee of the Red Cross and NGOs.

The Committee expressed concern about the “increasing number of reports of torture and ill-treatment in detention, where they are often used to compel the accused to confess, and in the absence of an independent body to investigate violations of the law enforcement and carried out regular visits to prisons and other detention facilities. ” Another problematic issue the Committee has called the government’s refusal to allow international human rights observers in places of detention.

However, Lukashenko still have much to learn from his Turkmen other. Turkmenistan has banned all opposition parties, independent media and labor unions. According to the Western analysts and media Berdimuhamedov appropriates 80 percent of state revenues. More recently, the country has also banned the rural health clinics and currency exchange offices, and all students were required every day before the training to read the “oath of allegiance to” Turkmenistan and its ruler.

via Gundogar

Syria accuses U.N. chief of encouraging ‘terrorists’

Syria accuses U.N. chief of encouraging ‘terrorists’


A Lebanese army military police vehicle, centre, escorts flatbed army trucks carrying three containers where the weapons were believed to be hidden, as they leave the port of Selaata, north of Beirut, Lebanon, on Saturday April 28, 2012.
APA Lebanese army military police vehicle, centre, escorts flatbed army trucks carrying three containers where the weapons were believed to be hidden, as they leave the port of Selaata, north of Beirut, Lebanon, on Saturday April 28, 2012.

On Saturday, the country’s state-run news agency said military units stationed off the Mediterranean foiled an infiltration attempt by “armed groups” from the sea in the early hours of the day.

A Syrian state-run newspaper accused U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday of encouraging “terrorist” rebel attacks by focussing his criticism on the government, while other government media reported that the navy foiled an infiltration attempt by gunmen who tried to land on the Syrian coast in rubber boats.

The editorial in Tishrin daily came a day after Mr. Ban said Syrian President Bashar Assad’s continued crackdown on protests has reached an “intolerable stage”. It also followed what the state media said was a suicide attack in Damascus that left 10 dead.

Ban said the U.N. will try to speed up the deployment of up to 300 monitors to Syria. Only 15 are there now.

The Syrian comments were the harshest against the U.N. since a plan brokered by special envoy Kofi Annan proposed an April 12 cease-fire to be followed by peace talks. Since that date, the U.N. has said the regime has broken many of its truce promises, such as withdrawing forces from towns and cities. Rebel fighters have also kept up attacks on Syrian security forces.

Mr. Annan’s plan aims to end the country’s 13-month crisis that has so far killed more than 9,000 people according to the U.N..

Tishrin said Mr. Ban has avoided discussing rebel violence in favour of “outrageous” attacks on the Syrian government. “The continued disregard of the international community and its cover for armed groups’ crimes and terrorist acts … is considered as direct participation in facilitating and carrying out the terrorism to which Syria is subjected,” the editorial said.

“Such a stance seemingly encourages those groups to go on committing more crimes and terrorist acts,” Tishrin said.

The Syrian capital was hit by four explosions on Friday that left at least 11 people dead and dozens wounded. President Assad’s government blamed the blasts on “terrorists”, the term the government uses to describe opposition forces that it says are carrying out a foreign conspiracy.

Infiltration attempt

On Saturday, the country’s state-run news agency said military units stationed off the Mediterranean foiled an infiltration attempt by “armed groups” from the sea in the early hours of the day. SANA said the navy forced the boats to flee, but a Syrian service member was killed and several others wounded.

Saturday’s attempt was the first reported rebel infiltration from the sea. Syrian authorities have said in the past that they clashed with infiltrators trying to cross from neighbouring Lebanon or Turkey.

In Lebanon, military prosecutor Saqr Saqr told The Associated Press that the army confiscated weapons that were found aboard a ship off the Lebanese coast. Prosecutor Saqr added that an investigation is under way, adding that the 11 crew members are being questioned by the Lebanese military police.

On Friday Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said Lebanese authorities intercepted a ship off the coast near the northern city of Tripoli called “Lutfallah II” suspected of carrying the weapons.

The ship was coming from Libya, via Egypt and then to the port of Tripoli apparently on its way to Syria, NNA said.

The ship was taken to the port of Selaata, north of Beirut, where three containers where the weapons were believed to be hidden were seen being placed on Lebanese army flatbed trucks and taken away Saturday morning.

In Afghanistan, a kind of suicide

In Afghanistan, a kind of suicide

The Hindu


TERROR STRIKES: An Afghan soldier keeps watch near the Provincial Reconstruction Team on Sunday as a NATO helicopter flies over the site of an attack in Jalalabad province.
APTERROR STRIKES: An Afghan soldier keeps watch near the Provincial Reconstruction Team on Sunday as a NATO helicopter flies over the site of an attack in Jalalabad province.

President Karzai has staked his all on a peace deal with the Taliban. Sunday’s attacks show his efforts aren’t working.

Late one June evening last year, as Taliban negotiators hopped between Islamabad, Doha and Munich for secret talks meant to bring peace in Afghanistan, a rocket arced over the east-central city of Ghazni. It ended its journey at Khatera Rezai’s home in Tauheedabad, just as the nine-year-old was getting ready for supper. She died eight hours later, her legs torn apart by shrapnel.

Musa Khan Akbarzada, Ghazni’s governor later told Afghanistan’s High Peace Council what had happened. “The Taliban,” he said, “were under pressure from their superiors for showing willingness to reconcile with the government, and for not firing rockets at Ghazni.” “We therefore permitted them to fire just two rockets at the city.”

Sunday’s savage Taliban assaults on Kabul, mirrored by simultaneous strikes in Paktia and Logar, make clear the lesson the Rezai family learned last summer: peace, like war, comes with a price.

In spite of their spectacular media impact, the Kabul attacks mean little. Even though the Taliban retains the ability to stage complex terrorist operations, it has lost swathes of mid-level commanders in targeted operations. Most military analysts agree the Taliban no longer retains the ability to stage force-on-force operations even against Afghanistan’s much-reviled army — the kinds of full-blown assaults that could lead it to overrun key towns and cities.

The real question is whether the fragile kingdom President Hamid Karzai has built will hold together when international troops begin to leave Afghanistan in 2014 — or be swept aside by dangerous political fractures his efforts to negotiate peace with the Taliban are opening up.

The searing spring

For more than a fortnight now, the fighting that has marked each Afghan spring has been joined. Kunduz residents — in particular, the districts of Chahar Dara, Dasht-i-Archi and Aliabad — have reported the presence of new groups of jihadists who have arrived from camps in Pakistan, pressuring the sons of peasant families to join their ranks. Insurgent commanders in Ghor have been imposing taxes to pay for weapons and maintenance. Fines and public lashings have been reported when residents defy the Taliban’s social codes — one mandating that no family ask for a bride price greater than the equivalent of 1,50,000 Afghanis, 80 sheep and 15 cows.

Last week, Afghan special forces launched operations in Kunar — a remote mountain region which has seen a surge of insurgents from Pakistani jihadist groups. Mullah Muhammad Fazlullah’s Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi and the Lashkar-e-Taiba, local residents claim, have even resurrected a Taliban-era Department for the Preservation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice — handing out beatings and whippings for local residents who fail to trim their beards, listen to music, or eating the local naswar tobacco. Maulavi Mohammad Hashem Munib, the head of Kunar’s Higher Peace Council, was killed in a suicide attack earlier this month — part of a campaign intended to degrade the Afghan state’s already-anaemic presence. Haji Mohammad Dawran Safi, a Taliban commander closely linked to al-Qaeda, recently said his organisation had earlier “tried to make American targets the priority, but the damage created by Afghan forces has become more and more every day.” “Now,” he concluded, “they are our priority.”

Politics and peace

Even though the Taliban campaign presence is most felt in areas ungoverned by the state — reports that the jihadists have “occupied” regions are misleading, since these regions were not held in the first place — their creeping growth causes concern. “People who remember the Taliban years,” says Kabul-based commentator Husain Yasa, “all fear what lies ahead. Perhaps the Taliban will overwhelm Kabul, and perhaps they won’t — but perhaps the time has come to prepare for the worst.”

Hours before Taliban assault teams attacked Kabul on Sunday, President Karzai announced the appointment of a suave, western-educated diplomat to head the Higher Peace Council — the body charged with negotiating with the Taliban. Salahuddin Rabbani, Afghanistan’s former Ambassador to Turkey, had returned home after his father, former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, was killed by a Taliban envoy who turned out to be a suicide bomber.

Few questions about the assassination have yet been resolved. Afghan military sources say it was likely carried out with the support of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, who feared that the elder Mr. Rabbani’s efforts might marginalise their own clients in the jihadist movement.

Ever since that assassination, palace insiders say, President Karzai became certain of one thing: Pakistan alone held the keys to peace in Afghanistan.

Mr. Karzai’s pursuit of peace was, from the outset, driven by political pragmatism, not high principle. From 2006, the Taliban began a relentless assassination campaign targeting traditional tribal leaders in the Kandahar region, Mr. Karzai’s traditional power-base. The campaign, which is estimated to have claimed over 150 lives, ensured that Mr. Karzai’s efforts to reach out to Alokozai Pashtun leaders collapsed, and that his prestige among his own Popalzai clan diminished. His controversial half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, was killed last summer.

In the 2009 elections, it became evident the President had little support among southern Afghanistan’s ethnic Pashtuns. His victory against key rival Abdullah Abdullah was secured because of support from ethnic Hazaras, grouped around Haji Muhammad Muhakik, and Uzbeks loyal to Abdul Rashid Dostum.

In a desperate effort to rebuild his political foundations, Mr. Karzai turned to the networks of Mr. Rabbani’s Jamiat-e-Islami — the centrepiece of the Islamist movement which, from the 1970s, dethroned Afghanistan’s traditional elite. He also sought help from Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami, a party which though still ostensibly insurgent, has proxies in the political system. Inside the palace — as it became clear western forces would draw down in 2014 — figures considered close to Pakistan acquired critical importance, among them, his chief of staff Karim Khurram.

From 2010, Mr. Karzai initiated an ever-more desperate search for peace with the Taliban, alienating large swathes of the opposition. Even though Pakistan proved unwilling, or unable, to rein in Taliban operating from its soil, Mr. Karzai continued to reach out, hoping a deal could be struck. In 2010, Mr. Muhaqiq resiled on his earlier support, warning: “the new political path that Karzai has chosen will not only destroy him, it will destroy the country. It’s a kind of suicide.”

The attacks will be a moment of decision, though, for representatives of Afghanistan’s ethnic minorities like Mr. Muhaqiq. Figures like 2009 presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah, former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh and Yunus Qanuni have been in talks to build a united front ahead of the 2014 elections — hoping to create a broad coalition that could include leaders from the south, like United States-based scholar Ali Jalali. “In the last ten years,” says political analyst Omar Sharifi, “there are many in Afghanistan who have developed interests in keeping the peace. There are businessman and contractors with stakes in the system; young people who have invested in an education; even druglords, whose business will be disrupted by war. The question, though, is how to keep it in these circumstances.”

President Karzai also faces a moment of decision: it is clear that the Taliban he hoped he could make peace with has no intention of accepting any kind of deal that Afghanistan’s political system as a whole could live with. In 2010, Mr. Muhaqiq had warned: “the new political path that Karzai has chosen will not only destroy him, it will destroy the country. It’s a kind of suicide.”

Those are words Afghanistan’s President ought be carefully considering.


Israelis being fooled on Iran ex-security chief

Israelis being fooled on Iran ex-security chief

Israel's former security chief Yuval Diskin. (Photo: MOSHE MILLNER/GPO/AFP)

Israel’s former security chief Yuval Diskin. (Photo: MOSHE MILLNER/GPO/AFP)

JERUSALEM: Israel’s former security chief Yuval Diskin on Saturday accused top ministers of misleading the public about the chances any pre-emptive military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities succeeding.

Diskin singled out Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak for criticism over their increasingly bellicose comments in the standoff with Iran over its nuclear programme.

“My major problem is that I have no faith in the current leadership, which must lead us in an event on the scale of war with Iran or a regional war,” Diskin said in comments carried by army radio and the Haaretz newspaper.

“I don’t believe in either the prime minister or the defence minister. I don’t believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings,” he said.

“Believe me, I have observed them from up close … They are not people who I, on a personal level, trust to lead Israel to an event on that scale and carry it off. These are not people who I would want to have holding the wheel in such an event.

“They are misleading the public on the Iran issue. They tell the public that if Israel acts, Iran won’t have a nuclear bomb. This is misleading.Actually, many experts say that an Israeli attack would accelerate the Iranian nuclear race.”

Diskin, who stepped down as head of Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security service last year after six years in the post, was addressing a public meeting in Kfar Saba in the Tel Aviv suburbs.

In March, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan also spoke out publicly against a military option on Iran. He told US network CBS an Israeli attack would have “devastating” consequences for Israel and would, in any case, be unlikely to put an end to the Iranian nuclear programme.

On relations between Israeli Jews and other groups, Diskin said: “Over the past 10-15 years, Israel has become more and more racist. All of the studies point to this. This is racism toward Arabs and toward foreigners, and we are also becoming a more belligerent society.”

Diskin also said he believed another political assassination, like that of then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 by a Jewish extremist, could occur in the future.

“Today there are extremist Jews, not just in the territories but also inside the Green Line — dozens of them — who, in a situation in which settlements are evacuated, would be willing to take up arms against their Jewish brothers,” he said.

– AFP/wm

Orange Revolution Is in Store for Russia

“Orange Revolution Is in Store for Russia: It is being prepared by International Terrorists, Criminal Organizations and Agents of Foreign Secret Services”

 By Yuri Yasenev


[Rossiyu zhdet oranzhevaya revolytsiya: Yeyo gotoviat mezhdunarodnye terroristy, kriminal’nye struktury i agenty inostrannykh razvedok] 1 

Translation, footnotes and comments (in square brackets) by burtsev.ru. Photographs courtesy IPROG and Pravda.info.

A Version: In 2003 the Turkish citizen Mehmet whose real name is Ruslan Saidov, persuaded the President of the Chechen Republic, Ahmed Kadyrov, that he could be of use with Kadyrov’s policy of “national reconciliation.” Saidov took part in organizing Kadyrov’s visit to Saudi Arabia. There Kadyrov made an agreement with the head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Naif Ibn Abdel-Aziz, that the Arab militants under the Lieutenant Colonel Aziz ben Said ben Ali al Hamdi (alias Abu al Valid al-Hamadi), Prince Naif’s subordinate, would be removed from Chechnya by May 2004. The agreement stipulated that Kadyrov guaranteed safe passage to Abu al-Valid. Playing a double game and intending to set up both parties, Saidov (probably together with Abu al-Valid himself) gave this information to the CIA. Apparently the CIA was concerned that having left Chechnya the Arab militants would resurface in Iraq and join the terrorist group of the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarkawi that belongs to the al-Qaida network.

Trying to prevent this, and besides, wanting to discredit Kadyrov in the eyes of Prince Naif, the CIA gave Saidov an “assignment”. On April 13 in the Nozhai-Yurt district of Chechnya, Russian troops killed Abu al-Valid (or alleged having done so). Saidov paid $300,000 to those who carried out this operation. Their bosses in Moscow received $500,000. How much the CIA paid Saidov is unknown. It appears that Prince Naif interpreted the news about al-Walid’s liquidation as a breach of the agreement on the part of Kadyrov. On May 9 the President of Chechnya was killed. The assassination was apparently carried out by the agents of one of Russia’s special services who were “bought” by the officer of the Jordanian secret services “Muhabarat al-Amma” Abu Hafs al-Urdani (Adzhet), and the commander of Arab terrorists who replaced Abu al-Walid. The middleman in this transaction was Hairulla [the nickname of Sulejman Imurzaev, one of Basaev’s “field commanders,” accused by Ramzan Kadyrov in organizing the assassination of his father, Chechen President Ahmad Kadyrov] 2 

Abu Hafs is connected with Mohamed al-Islambuli, the elder brother of Haled al-Islambuli, killer of the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, venerated in Islamist circles. In his turn Mohamed al-Islambuli is linked with a “Doctor” Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama ben-Laden’s “right hand.”


Supplement 1. Extract from the report on Ruslan Shamilyevich Saidov.

Born 1960, city of Khasavyurt, Dagestan. Speaks Russian, Chechen, Avar, English, Arabic and Turkish fluently. Resides in Dubai and Istanbul. In Dubai he does business with the Dubai Islamic Bank and Habib Bank. 3  Has Turkish passport

in the name of Mehmet.

Biographical data:

1983-93-army service.

1992-93: Saidov, using the cover name Hungar [possibly the first name in his Turkish passport], took part in military operations in Abkhazia, along with Gary Aiba and Shamil Basaev.

November 1993: retired from the army and placed on reserve.

In May-June 1994, Saidov together with Usman Imaev and Khozh-Ahmed Nukhaev  4 [Nukhaev is wanted by the Prosecutor General’s Office for the assassination of Paul Khlebnikov], and under an agreement with Pavel Grachev and Dzhohar Dudaev, organized twenty-two flights to airlift arms and ammunition via the Chechen airport Sheikh Mansur to the airport Aden in Yemen.

In the spring of 1995 Saidov began to cooperate with the organized [criminal] society, led by Vladimir Filin and Alexei Likhvintsev (see below) in handling [narco] traffic through the port of Novorossiysk.

Since August 1995 Saidov resides in Turkey.

In December 1995 he published an extremist book in Turkish The Muslims of the Caucasus in the 19th century: Genocide by Russia5  The leader of the Welfare Party and the future Turkish Prime Minister, Necmettin Erbakan, gave a good review of this book. In July 1996 Saidov became his adviser.

In December 1996 Ayman Zawahiri was arrested in Dagestan for illegal entry. He carried a false Sudanese passport. When he was arrested Saidov went to Makhachkala [the capital of Dagestan]. There he organized a petition to the authorities in support of Zawahiri. It was signed by twenty-six Muslim clergymen and the Russian State Duma deputy, Nadirshakh Khachilaev. Saidov managed to obtain a court decision, condemning Zawahiri to a six-month prison term, which had actually expired by that time.

According to intelligence data, in the fall of 1997, Saidov arrived in Chechnya and joined Basaev and Khattab. Served as special operations instructor in the training center Said ibn-Abu-Wakas near Serzhen-Yurt. In August 1999 he fought with the armed formations invading Dagestan. He was seriously wounded in the head. In September 1999 he was transported to Turkey and then to Switzerland for medical treatment.

Since the middle of the nineties, Saidov formed stable relations with the Saudi businessman Adnan Hashoggi, Prince Turki al-Faisal (then head of the Saudi intelligence and at present, Saudi Ambassador to Great Britain) and Prince Naif. At the time of the terrorist act in the Moscow theater in Dubrovka in October 2002, Saidov and Prince Turki were in Moscow together. Earlier, in July-September of 2002, Saidov visited Moscow three times. He met with Ruslan Elmurzaev (Abu-Bakar), including in the office of Prima-Bank. 6 

In September 2003, Saidov participated in the congress of the extremist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami in Jordan. At this congress he announced that Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami was an organization effectively acting in the underground throughout Russia, Central Asia and the Crimea.

In 2003 Saidov established relations with the Chechen President Ahmed Kadyrov and organized Kadyrov’s visit to Saudi Arabia and his meeting with Prince Naif. After the liquidation (or pretended liquidation?) of Abu al-Valid in April 2004, Saidov and Kadyrov parted. Their last meeting took place in Moscow on May 7, two days before Kadyrov’s assassination. According to witnesses they had an extremely tense conversation.

On August 16, 2004, Saidov arrived in Moscow from Istanbul and met with Ruslan Aushev, and Mikhail and Khamzat Gutseriev. [Mikhail Gutseriev: president of “Slavneft” oil company. Mentioned in Sergei Petrov’s interview as one of the participants in the deal between oligarchic groups and CPRF. His brother, Khamzat Gutseriev, former internal minister of Ingush Republic, Aushev associate] On August 20 he arrived in Nazran. On September 4 (immediately after the terrorist act in Beslan) he left for Baku and from there to Turkey.

In 2001-4, Saidov frequently visited Abkhazia. His contact there was Gary Aiba, former mayor of Sukhumi, and the leader of “Amtsakhara,” the oppositional political movement of the veterans of the Georgian-Abkhaz war. On June 9, 2004 while driving in Sukhumi, Aiba was killed by machine gun fire and Saidov switched to the circle of Sergei Bagapsh. [At the time Bagapsh was a presidential candidate] From October 1 to December 5, Saidov lived in Sukhumi incognito, advising the opposition leaders. His goal was the violent change of power in Abkhazia and the destabilization of the adjacent regions of Russia.

When, in November, the governor of the Krasnodar region, Alexander Tkachev declared that “behind Bagapsh there stand criminal and anti-Russian forces” –he meant Saidov.

On December 4, 2004 the Russian presidential administration demanded from Saidov that he stop his anti-Russian activities and immediately leave Abkhazia. After that a compromise between Bagapsh and Raul Hadzhimba was reached.

On December 8, 2004 Saidov addressed Muslim youth in Moscow. In his words, “following Ukraine, the Orange Revolution is coming to Russia.” “Our liberals say that in 2008 the situation in Moscow will be like the one in Kiev. ” However, everything will be different, and not in 2008, but earlier.” “Amirs and mudjahideen will soon make the Kremlin shudder with horror.” In 2005, “they will throw into hell the servant of Satan,” i.e., President Putin, who is allegedly “wanted by the International Tribunal at The Hague.”

Supplement 2. Excerpt from the memo concerning the organized society led by Vladimir Filin and Alexei Likhvintsev.

Vladimir Ilyich Filin, b. 1959, Kiev, Ukraine. Speaks Russian, Ukrainian, English, German, French, Spanish, and Farsi fluently.

Alexei Aleksandrovich Likhvintsev, b. 1960, Lvov, Ukraine. Speaks Russian, Ukrainian, English, and German.

In 1990-93 both men lived in Eastern Germany and were involved in selling off the property of the Western Army Group. Their partners were companies controlled by Kosovo Albanian criminal societies.

In November 1993 they were both retired from the military. The retirement was forced. They were suspected in financing the nationalist Ukrainian organization UNA-UNCO.

Presently, Filin resides in Switzerland, Likhvintsev in Great Britain. Both have British citizenship.

Officially, Filin and Likhvintsev invest in construction and tourist business in Arab Emirates and do business in Colombia, where Filin has extensive contacts since his stay there in 1986-88.

Both men preserve their contacts in Russian Ministry of Defense. Previously they were connected with Pavel Grachev [Minister of Defense under Yeltsin], later with Anatoly Kvashnin [ Chief of the General Stuff under Yeltsin and Putin, now retired]

Filin and Likhvintsev do business with foreign private military companies (PMCs):

– «Meteoric Tactical Solutions» (South Africa) – in Angola;

– «Kellog, Brown&Root» (KBR Halliburton) – in Colombia, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Georgia, and Iraq.

– «Diligence Iraq LLC» (controlled by the Kuwaiti Mohammed as-Sagar) – in Iraq.

Their cooperation with these companies began in the end of 1994 in Angola on the initiative of Victor Bout, who was involved in the shipments of Soviet-made arms to the anti-government group UNITA in exchange to raw diamonds. Apparently, Bout became interested in Likhvintsev’s contacts (L. worked in Angola in 1986-87). Later, in October of 1998, Filin, Likhvintsev’s wife Liudmila Rozkina (b. 1966) and Anton Surikov (at that time he worked in the Russian government) established the company Far West Ltd., with the office in Lausanne, which officially does security consulting for business ventures in countries with unstable regimes. De facto, this is a legalized form of recruiting mercenaries for PMCs.

Partners and Members

Alfonso Davidovich – (1948), Venezuelan, lives in Munich. Has German and Venezuelan citizenship.

Speaks Spanish, English, French, German, and Russian fluently. In the 1970s went through special training in the USSR (Privol’noe, Nikolaevskaya oblast) and East Germany.

Owns companies and banks in Barbados, the Caymans and other off-shores.

Has friendly relations with Hugo Chavez, and is acquainted with Fidel Castro, Marcus Wolf and Adnan Hashoggi. Has many contacts in Colombia, including FARC.

In 1999 Davidovich was alleged to have engaged in arms trafficking for guerrillas in Chiapas, Mexico and in money laundering for the Colombian drug mafia.

Finances antiglobalization movement in Europe and Latin America.”

Yakov Abramovich Kosman (b. 1946), resides in Nice, France. Has German and, possibly, Israeli citizenship.

Involved in real estate operations and banking. Has contacts with Kosovo Albanian criminal societies in European countries. In 1997-2000 he served as financial consultant to Hashim Tachi, the chief commander of KLA.”

Valery Nikolaevich Lunev (b. 1960), resides in the Netherlands, has Dutch citizenship. Married to Dzhokhar Dudaev’s relative Fatima (b. 1970). Retired from the military in March of 1995.

Lunev is responsible for security and “strong arm operations”. For his operations he hires the former and active duty officers of Russian secret services, including spetsnaz

In 1990-91 Lunev took part in overthrowing the regime of Zviad Gamsahurdia in Georgia.

Has extensive contacts in Tajikistan. Has the native-like command of the Tajik and Afghan (Pushtu) languages, as well as Russian, Belorussia, English, and Dutch. During the civil war in Tajikistan cooperated with Sandak Safarov. 7 

Anton Victorovich Surikov (b. 1961). Presents himself as political scientists. Responsible for informational and political projects. Actively publishes in press. Some of his publications resemble ciphered directives to the elements in Russian special services disloyal to President Vladimir Putin. His other articles contain political messages intended for abroad.

Surikov has contacts with Fritz Ermarth, former leading CIA analyst of the USSR and Russia, now in Nixon Foundation. Has contacts in the Near Volga Region (Tatarstan, Udmurtia) and in the Caucasus. In 1992-93 Surikov often visited Abkhazia, where, together with Saidov, he–under the nom de guerre Mansur–worked in coordination with Gary Aiba and Shamil Basaev.

Retired in September 1996. In 1996-2002 occupied high posts in the apparatus of Federal government and the State Duma. Presently, officially is a businessman [Executive Director of the Association of Russian Poultry Market Operators].

Surikov has close relations with Alexander Prokhanov and Alexander Nagorny [respectively, chief editor and assistant chief editor of newspaper “Zavtra”], Anatoly Baranov [chief editor of Pravda.info and KPRF.ru], Mikhail Delyagin, former adviser to Mikhail Kasyanov [Delyagin–founder and Chair of IPROG Board and the Institute’s director till April 2002 when he was replaced by Boris Kagarlitsky], Alexei Kondaurov (head of YUKOS security department, former general of KGB and FSB, State Duma deputy from CPRF), Ilya Ponomarev (former YUKOS CEO, CPRF).

In 2002-03, together with Kondaurov–who represented Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Leonid Nevzlin–Surikov, with the help of Victor Vidmanov, organized financing of CPRF by YUKOS shareholders and the individuals associated with OPS [the organized criminal society] (Yakov Kosman, Nikolai Lugovskoi) to the tune of $15 million.

On December 13 2004, in Adygeia, Surikov had a meeting with a group of Sufi believers and said this: “In the past we were against ahl-ad-dalala (those who gone astray) with their Arab money. We used to say that one should not separate from Russia. But now “Russia is on the brink of collapse and chaos.” So “we’ll be separating [from Russia] with all Muslims of the Caucasus.” A new state will be created on our historical lands from Psou and the Black See to Laba and Kuban.”

5. Leonid Leonidovich Kosyakov, b. 1955, Ukrainian citizen. Until 2005 resided in Arab Emirates and Switzerland. Citizen of Ukraine. Retired from the service in May 1993. Presently the president of Far West Ltd.

In 1983-85 Kosyakov was in command of a special group in Shindand (Afghanistan), assigned to intercept caravans with drugs. In different times under his direct command served Filin, Lunev, Likhvintsev, Surikov, Petrov, as well as Saidov.

II. On accusations in drug trafficking

These accusations were made by the former officer of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine Sergei Petrov (alias Serge Rodin, French citizen). 8 

According to his testimony:

“The OPS [organized criminal society] was involved in drug trafficking since the beginning of 1990s:

-from 1995 the OPS transports heroin (produced in Afghanistan) from Tajikistan to European countries via Russia with the assistance of Russian Defense Ministry.

– from 2000 the OPS is involved in smuggling Colombian cocaine to Russia through the seaports of Novorossiysk and St. Petersburg under the disguise of import shipments from Latin America.

Among the OPS contacts in Novorossyisk is Saidov; in St. Petersburg it used to be Roman Tsepov. 9 

Received profits are used for personal enrichment of the OPS leaders, the officials at the Ministry of Defense who provide them with “the roof” [protection], and for financing extremist activities.”

In November of 2003, Rodin contacted the law enforcement agencies of Germany and France. Their investigation did not result in any [legal] actions against Filin, Likhvintsev, and their partners.

In January 2004, Rodin was blown up in his car in South Africa.

In the press, Surikov and Baranov explained Rodin’s allegations by his assumed mental problems. But in the past, they also used mass media for allegations in drug trafficking against their competitors (Makhmadsaid Ubaidolluev, Gafur Mirzoyev-“the Gray-Haired,” Aslan Abashidze, Soso Gogitidze and others). 10 

III. On the activities in the interests of foreign secret services.

1. During November 22-December 7, Filin and Likhvintsev were in Ukraine where, in coordination with the U. S. Embassy, they took part in the negotiations between Victor Pinchuk and the leadership of the army, police, and secret services. 11 

2. In 2003-2004, Filin and Likhvintsev worked on the Georgian project, financed by KBR Halliburton, apparently, with the approval of the CIA. The project had the goal of weakening the competitors of Halliburton in oil business and, in a broader context, of facilitating the geopolitical objectives of the United States in the Caucasus. The OPS man in Georgia is Audrius Butkevicius, former Lithuanian minister of defense, presently adviser to Badri Patarkatsishvili. 12 

3. In the summer of 2004 [the OPS] started a project in the Near-Volgian Federal District to train cadres for Volga-Urals chapter of the international extremist organization Hizb ut-Tahir, banned by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in 2003. The project is financed by private philanthropic foundations of the Arabic Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

The course of instruction includes:

-forms and methods of operative work by secret services;

-theory and practice of local armed conflicts;

-security of oil and gas pipelines;

-informational warfare in mass media.

Instruction and training were provided for a fee by former and active officers of Russian special services who had experience in local armed conflicts, faculty members from military colleges, specialists in the security of pipeline transportation and propaganda.


1  Published 17.12.2004 by compromat.ru: http://www.compromat.ru/main/surikov/saidov.htm

2  The information about Saidov’s dealings with Kadyrov is indirectly supported by the following account of the “agreement” between the Kremlin and the organized criminal society, which allegedly includes Saidov and is led by Vladimir Filin (“Vova Filin”) and Alexei Likhvintsev (“Pribalt”):“According to a source close to Victor Cherkesov [the head of State Committee for Controlling Drug Trafficking], there exist a powerful military criminal organization that since 1992 has been controlling significant drug trafficking from Afghanistan to Russia and Europe, is involved in money laundering and actively interferes in Russian politics… The criminal society is led by the former intelligence officers and Safghan veterans, now narco barons Vova Filin and Lyosha Pribalt [Alexei Likhvintsev]… Filin and Pribalt literally flooded Russia with heroin. The Kremlin could not tolerate this abomination any longer and ordered a mighty “Chekist raid” [i.e., order the FSB to shut down the operation] against the narco barons. However, it is rumored that the raid has ended up with the agreement that the latter would 1) share their profits; 2) help in facilitating peaceful referendum on Chechen constitution; 3) bring some order to the drug market by liquidating the leaders of ethnic criminal groups.” (emphasis added). “Geroinovyi tur.” By Nikita Kaledin. Stringer-news, November 4, 2003: http://www.stringer-news.ru/Publication.mhtml?PubID=2448&Part=39

3  “Habib Bank Ltd., a big Pakistani financial institution that has long been scrutinized by U.S. intelligence officials monitoring terrorist money flows.” On possible links between the Habib Bank and the al-Qaeda network and Al-Rashid Trust, see: “SHC seeks evidence against Al-Akhtar Trust”, Daily Times, March 17, 2005: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_17-3-2005_pg7_20 . Habib Bank was also involved in drugs related transactions in the 1980s during the war in Afghanistan: http://www.larouchepub.com/other/1995/2241_golden_crescent.html“British cash and fighters still flow to bin Laden.” By Chris Hastings and David Bamber. News. Telegraph, 27/01/2002):http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/01/27/nlse127.xml .On Dubai Islamic Bank and bin Laden’s organization, see “Trail links Bin Laden aide to hijackersUS investigation reveals terrorist paymaster’s role in financial web,” by Julian Borger in Washington and John Hooper in Berlin. The Guardian, October 1, 2001: http://www.guardian.co.uk/waronterror/story/0,1361,561000,00.html; “The CIA met Bin Laden while undergoing treatment at an American Hospital last July in Dubai,” by Alexandra Richard. Le Figaro, 11 October 2001: http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/RIC111B.html

4  Nukhaev is wanted by the Prosecutor General’s Office for the assassination of Paul Khlebnikov.

5  According to other source (Sarkisian), Saidov’s book was written in Arabic. We were not able to find this book. Most likely, it is a pamphlet rather than a full-size book.

6  Elmurzaev was said to be killed in the storming of the theater, but rumored to be alive in Chechnya.

7  A leader of the People’s Front of Tajikistan.

8  See Revelations of the Fugitive Kremlin Financier: http://left.ru/burtsev/ops/petrov_en.phtml

9  Roman Tsepov, president of the Baltik-Eskort security company, died under suspicious circumstances in September 2004. http://english.mn.ru/english/issue.php?2004-38-14Recently, Vladimir Filin acknowledged Tsepov’s ties with Far West Ltd. Far West Ltd. “is no longer interested in Russian seaports. Ukraine is now more attractive to us than Novorossiysk. As to St. Petersburg, we never worked there, only our partners in the international trade do. They were brought in by the now late Sergei Tarasovich Petrov and Roman Igorevich Tsepov.”See “Vladimir Filin: The Representation of Far West Ltd in Udmurtia has been Closed,” Pravda-info, 09.06.2005: http://www.pravda.info/news/3628.html

10  Makhmadsaid Ubaidolluev is the Chairman of Majlisi Milli Majlisi Oli of the Republic of Tajikistan.
Gafur Mirzoyev-“the Gray-Haired”. One of the closest associates of Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov and the former head of the Presidential Guard, General Gafur Mirzoev was arrested in August 2004. At the time of his arrest Mirzoyev was the head of Tajik Drug Control Agency http://www.nobf.ru/engl/news/news_archive_04.htmlAslan Abashidze, a former president of Adzharia, Georgia’s autonomous republic. He was ousted and fled to Moscow after the “revolution of roses” in Tbilisi, 2003. Soso Gogitidze, Adjar Security Minister under Abashidze.

11  Viktor Pinchuk, Ukrainian oligarch, former President Kuchma’s son-in-law.

12  Georgian tycoon, close associate of Boris Berezovsky.

При использовании этого материала ссылка на Лефт.ру обязательна 

Two explosions rattle Damascus amid prayers and protests

Two explosions rattle Damascus amid prayers and protests


BEIRUT — A blast ripped through central Damascus on Friday, killing at least nine people and injuring 20,  including civilians and police, Syrian state television reported. It was the second blast to hit the Syrian capital on Friday, a day on which protesters take to the streets each week after noon prayers. 

Syrian state television blamed the attack on “terrorists” — the term frequently used by the Syrian government to describe the rebels — and called it a “suicide terrorist explosion.”

Gruesome images of puddles of blood and body parts were aired on government-controlled television, which said the explosion took place following Friday prayers outside the Zein el Abidine mosque, near a school. The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency showed graphic photos of a severed hand and leg strewn at the bombing site.

A Damascus dissident rejected the state media’s contention that the bombings were the work of anti-government forces, pointing out that the bombed area, Midan, is an opposition stronghold where protests against the government routinely break out. The mosque was also identified by a Damascus resident, reached by Skype, as a hub for protests.

Protests usually begin Fridays at the end of noon prayers as worshipers emerge from mosques and spill onto the streets. The explosion stopped people from leaving the mosques to stage their protests, the anti-government activist said.

“In Midan on Friday the security forces are stationed in every mosque and the eyes of the security are on the neighborhood,” he said in a Skype interview. “So how does an explosion like this happen?” 

A few hours earlier, another blast was reported in the industrial area of Damascus. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties in that explosion.

The Friday bombings were the latest in a series of explosions that have rocked Syria since anti-government street demonstrations began more than a year ago. At least 26 people were killed in a January blast in Midan. Aleppo and Dara have also been hit with explosions in recent months.

Yulia Tymoshenko Shows Bruises from Alleged Beating By Guards


Tymoshenko, heroine of Ukraine democracy movement, ails in prison as West’s concerns grow

Juergen Baetz, Maria Danilova

Global Regina |

KIEV, Ukraine – Yulia Tymoshenko, the braided darling of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution who went on to be prime minister, is wasting away in prison — weakened from a hunger strike, bruised from prison beatings and afraid she will be force-fed by her political foes, her family said Friday.

Western concern about Tymoshenko has soared since she launched a hunger strike a week ago to protest alleged prison abuse. She claims that guards punched her in the stomach and twisted her arms and legs while taking her to a hospital against her will to be treated for debilitating back pain.



The opposition leader’s party claimed that a string of bombings Friday in eastern Ukraine that authorities blamed on terrorists may have been orchestrated by the government to deflect attention from her plight.

It is a dramatic reversal for a woman who became a global icon of democratic change during Ukraine’s 2004 mass rallies against a stolen presidential election, in which she mesmerized her nation with ringing speeches from a frozen Kyiv square as thousands of protesters huddled in a tent village.

Tymoshenko appears pallid and worn-out in photos of her lying in prison taken by Ukraine’s top human rights official — a shadow of the glamorous figure who faced crowds in haute-couture gowns and golden braids. The pictures by Nina Karpachova show blotches on Tymoshenko’s abdomen, lower arm and abdomen.

Her daughter told The Associated Press that her health was failing rapidly.

“After the attack, she was in intense pain,” Eugenia Tymoshenko said in a telephone interview. “She is very weak, she hasn’t eaten for seven days, only drinking water. Prison officials threaten that they will force-feed her.”

Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year prison sentence on charges of abusing her powers in a Russian energy deal. The West has strongly condemned the verdict as politically motivated and threatened to freeze co-operation with Ukraine.

Oleksandr Tymoshenko, the jailed opposition leader’s husband, told the AP in the Czech capital of Prague — where he has been granted asylum — that he believes the Ukrainian government is slowly killing his wife.

“Everything that has been happening to Yulia Tymoshenko is a rehearsal of her physical destruction — a murder that the authorities have been planning to carry out since the beginning of repression against her.”

Four explosions rocked the Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk on Friday, injuring 27 people, including nine teenagers. The government blamed terrorism — but the Tymoshenko camp suspects a government-orchestrated diversion tactic.

Deputy parliament speaker Mykola Tymenko, a member of Tymoshenko’s party, said he “does not rule out” that senior government members in President Viktor Yanukovych’s government were involved in organizing the blasts.

The president’s office declined to comment on the opposition charges.

In Berlin, the head of Berlin’s renowned Charite hospital said it is “unlikely” that Ukraine will be able to successfully treat Tymoshenko because the hospital where she is being taken does not have the expertise to carry out the complex procedure. Karl Einhaeupl and his team inspected the Kharkiv facility earlier this month.

Tymoshenko has suffered severe back pain since October, but she refuses treatment in Ukraine because “she does not trust the Ukrainian medical system” and fears she will be deliberately infected, Einhaeupl told reporters.

“I appeal to the Ukrainian president to be guided by humanitarian values and let her travel abroad to Europe to receive treatment,” he said.

The doctors declined to comment on Tymoshenko’s claim that she was abused by prison guards. Einhaeupl said he has seen recent photos of her showing what is “very obvious” bruising but said he couldn’t elaborate because the alleged abuse happened after their April 17 meeting.

Germany has been leading the European Union’s critical stance on Ukraine over the Tymoshenko case. The government in Berlin is also offering to treat her in Germany, but Kyiv has rejected the offer. Recently, however, the Ukrainian leadership proposed that German doctors could come to Ukraine and treat her at the Kharkiv hospital.

But Einhaeupl and his colleague Norbert Haas rejected the proposal, saying it would take weeks and probably months for a team of physicians and specialists to treat her condition appropriately.

“The therapy will take months. A short visit would not yield any substantial results,” Haas said.

“I am extremely skeptical that Tymoshenko could be successfully treated in Ukraine, even with the participation of two, three German doctors,” Einhaeupl added.

Einhaeupl stressed the doctors are concerned by Tymoshenko’s hunger strike, given her already weakened condition. She appeared to be “desperate” during their April 17 visit, and begged the German doctors to treat her, he said, adding that her condition had deteriorated significantly since their first visit in January.

“We hope that we can meet and examine her again within the next seven days,” he said, noting that this still has to be approved by Ukrainian authorities.

In their evaluation report of the Kharkiv hospital, the doctors say Ukrainian authorities have made great efforts to provide the best possible conditions for her treatment there.

“But Ms. Tymoshenko’s particular problems of physical and psychological nature, as well as the particular evolution of her illness let it appear unlikely that the therapy there will be successful,” the report stated.

Tymoshenko denies the abuse of power charges, saying they are part of a campaign by Yanukovych, her longtime foe, to bar her from politics. Yanukovych, who narrowly defeated her in the 2010 presidential race, has denied involvement in the Tymoshenko case.

Ukraine is increasingly under pressure over its treatment of Tymoshenko. EU officials have threatened her case and those of other jailed opposition members could derail a planned rapprochement between Kyiv and the 27-nation bloc.

German President Joachim Gauck cancelled a visit to Ukraine next month on Thursday, and calls were growing from opposition lawmakers for EU government officials to boycott the Euro 2012 football championship that Ukraine will co-host in June.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Friday Chancellor Angela Merkel’s top adviser on foreign policy issues discussed Tymoshenko’s case again with Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Thursday. Seibert said the chancellor keeps herself “very informed about the Tymoshenko case.”


Baetz reported from Berlin. Karel Janicek contributed from Prague. Follow Juergen Baetz on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jbaetz

© The Canadian Press, 2012

 Tymoshenko, heroine of Ukraine democracy movement, ails in prison as West’s concerns grow 

US offers ‘safe passage’ to Afghan Taliban leaders

US offers ‘safe passage’ to Afghan Taliban leaders

By Fakhar ur Rehman
NBC News, and msnbc.com news services

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The United States and Afghanistan have agreed to “give safe passage” to representatives of the Afghan Taliban to help them to enter future peace talks, officials announced Thursday.

The move comes just weeks ahead of a NATO summit in Chicago on the future of Afghanistan. It may also represent a significant step forward towards the resumption of peace talks that were suspended in Qatar last month.

Speaking at a joint press conference with U.S. Special Envoy Marc Grossman and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani,  Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Javed Ludin said: “Time is short, peace is urgent.”

“We need to find and encourage and create safe passage for peace talks,” with the Afghan Taliban, he added.

His comments came after the three countries held their sixth meeting aimed at political reconciliation in Afghanistan.

A U.S. Embassy official confirmed to NBC News that the countries have agreed to allow and facilitate travel of the Afghan militants to participate in any future talks. The official said details of how it would work in practice have not been announced.

U.S. sees Taliban talks suspension as tactical move

Jilani announced the establishment of two new groups, one to represent the efforts of the three countries at the United Nations, and another responsible for “safe passage.” “Safe passage will be to help bring Afghan Taliban in to peace talks,” he told NBC News.

More than ten years after the beginning of the war, Afghanistan faces external pressure to reform as well as ongoing internal conflicts.

Dr Gareth Price, senior research fellow at Britain’s Chatham House think thank, told msnbc.com the move could be seen as a “confidence-building measure”.

Talks were suspended last month amid a string of public setbacks that have scandalized and angered Afghans, notably U.S. soldiers’ burning of copies of the Koran and the killing of 16 Afghan villagers for which a U.S. soldier is in custody.

Price added: “The US has made clear it will remain in Afghanistan in some form – that’s the stick, if you like, so maybe this is the carrot.”

On Tuesday, White House sources told Reuters that President Barack Obama’s administration may hand over a Taliban detainee at Guantanamo Bay prison directly to the Afghan government in order to help revive peace talks.

As foreign forces prepare to exit Afghanistan, the White House had hoped to lay the groundwork for peace talks by sending five Taliban prisoners, some seen as among the most threatening detainees at Guantanamo, to Qatar to rejoin other Taliban members opening a political office there.

15 injured in 4 blasts in east Ukraine city



Ukrainian Coal Miners Seeking Back Wages?

Ukraine’s Pissed-Off Coal Miners

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Ukrainian Coal Miners Still Waiting for Wages–All Year, So Far

At least 16 dead in Ukraine mine blast

Did Deadly Greed Cause Series of Coal Mine Disasters?

Another Mine Disaster In Ukraine’s Donetsk Region

15 injured in 4 blasts in east Ukraine city


KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – Four blasts within minutes rocked the center of the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk Friday, injuring at least 15 people in what prosecutors believed was a terrorist attack, officials said.

Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Yulia Yershova said the first blast occurred at a tramway stop in the center of Dnipropetrovsk, injuring five people. The second injured seven people outside a movie theater, while the third wounded three near a railway station.

A fourth blast was also heard in the city center, the Interior Ministry said. It was unclear whether anybody was injured.

Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko and other top law enforcement officials were flying to Dnipropetrovsk. Prosecutors’ spokesman Yuri Boichenko said investigators are treating the blasts as a terrorist attack.

In January 2011, two pre-dawn explosions outside an office of a coal mining company and then a shopping center in the eastern city of Makiyivka caused no casualties.

The authorities said they received letters from unknown assailants demanding money in exchange for not causing any more blasts, and they treated those explosions as acts of terrorism.

The Intellectual Disarming of the “Idiot Nation”

Has America Been Crippled By Intellectual Idiots?

Brandon Smith

As far back as I can remember, the overarching message of the American social atmosphere has been one of idolization.  Oh to one day join the ranks of the “professional class”; that 5% to 10% of our culture which enjoys unparalleled respect and an assumed position of knowledge, so much so that they are rarely even required to qualify themselves to anyone besides their own compatriots.  The goal of every person I knew during my formative years with a desire to succeed was to one day hold in their hands an official looking embossed document announcing their ascension to the ranks of the intellectually anointed.  I was never so keen on the idea…

The dangers of academic deification are numerous.  Those who dominate the educational language of the times determine the moral compass (or lack of compass) of the curriculum.  They control who is accepted and who is rejected, not by measure of intelligence or skill, but by their willingness to conform to the establishment ideal.  They construct a kind of automaton class, which has been taught not to learn independently, but to parrot propaganda without question.  Simultaneously, those of us who do not “make the grade” are relegated to the role of obliged worshippers; accepting the claims of the professional class as gospel regardless of how incorrect they happen to be.  To put it simply; the whole thing is disgustingly inbred.

Elitism has always lent itself to morbid forms of educational molestation.  This is nothing new, especially within their own limited circles.  However, to have such perversions of logic and reason gutting the minds of entire generations across endless stretches of our country without any counterbalance is a far more heinous state of affairs in the long run.  Ultimately, this highway can only lead to a deterioration of our future, and the death of reason itself.

Recently, I attended a discussion panel on Constitutionalism at a university in Helena, the capital of Montana, and admittedly, was not expecting much insight.  (At the moment of arrival I noticed the buildings had been plastered with Kony 2012 posters.  The campus seemed to be completely unaware that the YouTube film is a George Soros funded ‘Wag the Dog’ farce.)  Even in a fiercely independent region such as the Northern Rockies, the collectivist hardline reigns supreme on most college campuses.  Sadly, very few actual students attended the discussion, and the audience was predominantly made up of local political players, retired legislators, and faculty.  Surprisingly, Stewart Rhodes of Oath Keepers was invited to participate in the discussion, obviously to add at least some semblance of balance or “debate” to an otherwise one-sided affair.  The mix was like oil and water.

The overall tone was weighted with legal drudgery.  Many of the speakers were focused intently on secondary details and banal explorations into individual Constitutional cases without any regard for the bigger picture.  When confronted with questions on the indefinite detainment provisions of the NDAA, government surveillance, or executive ordered assassinations of U.S. citizens, the panelists responded with lukewarm apathy.  The solutions we discuss regularly within the Liberty Movement, such as state nullification based on the 10th Amendment, assertions of local political control through Constitutional Sheriffs, and even civil disobedience, were treated with indignant responses and general confusion.

A consistent theme arose from the academics present, trying to run damage control on Rhodes’ points on federal encroachment and ultimate tyranny.  Their position?  Defiance is unacceptable (or at least, not politically correct…).  Americans have NO recourse against a centralized government.  Not through their state and local representatives, and not through concerted confrontation.  In fact, to even suggest that states act on their own accord without permission is an outlandish idea.  In the end, the only outlet for the public is….to vote.

No one seemed to be able to address the fact that both major parties supported the exact same unconstitutional policies, thus making national level elections an act of pure futility. The point was brushed aside…

Sickly shades of socialism hung heavy in the room.  One speaker even suggested that the states could not possibly survive financially without centralized aid.  He was apparently too ignorant to understand that the federal government itself is bankrupt, incapable of producing true savings, and printing fiat Ad Nauseum just to stay afloat.  Every 30 seconds I heard a statement that made me cringe.

Universities are today’s centers of connection.  They are one of the last vestiges of American tribalism and community in an age of self isolation and artificial technological cultism.  Adults do not meet face to face much anymore to share knowledge, or discuss the troubles of the day.  The academic world provides such opportunity, but at a terrible price.  To connect with the world, students must comply.  To be taken seriously, they must adopt, consciously or unconsciously, the robes of the state.  They must abandon the passions of rebellion and become indifferent to the truth.  All actions and ideas must be embraced by the group, or cast aside.  They must live a life of dependency, breeding a culture of fear, for that which others keep for us, they can easily take away.

How could anyone possibly sustain themselves on a diet of congealing fantasy, and personal inadequacy?  The intellectual life bears other fruits as well.  Where it lacks in substance, it makes up for in ego, proving that being educated is not necessarily the same as being intelligent.  The following is a list of common character traits visible in the average intellectual idiot, a breed that poisons the American well, and is quickly eroding away any chance of Constitutional revival…

1)  An Obsession With The Appearance Of Objectivity 

I say “appearance” of objectivity because the intellectual idiot does indeed take sides on a regular basis, and the side he takes invariably benefits the establishment.  He would never admit to this, though, because he believes it gives him more credibility to at least be thought of as standing outside an issue looking in.  It is not uncommon to find Intellectual Idiots being contrary regardless of your view, even if they would normally agree.  They often try to approach debate with the façade of detachment, as if they do not care one way or the other.  The costume soon wears away, however, when they are faced with an opponent that is not impressed with their educational status.  I have seen lawyers, doctors, engineers, and even politicians devolve into sniveling toddlers when they are derailed by an argument beyond their ability to tap-dance around.  Their middle of the road persona evaporates, and the real person erupts like an ugly pustule…

2)  Clings To Labels And Status

Like anyone else, Intellectual Idiots cradle a philosophy they believe in, or are told to believe in.  But unlike most of us, they see themselves above the scrutiny of those who do not pursue a similar academic path (i.e. only a lawyer should be allowed to debate another lawyer).  The reality is, anyone is privy to the information a proponent of the professional class knows.  With the advent of the internet, it is easier than ever to educate one’s self on multiple subjects without aid if that person has the determination to do so.  Reputation is not earned by shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for university approval.  A Masters Degree or Ph.D is not a get out of logic free card.  In fact, because the Intellectual Idiot often uses his position to avoid true opposition, he tends to become lazy and even more incapable of defending his methodologies when the time comes.

3)  Predominantly Collectivist

The curriculum of the average college is partly to blame for this, and because the Intellectual Idiot is so desperate for acceptance and accolades, they can’t help but fall into the trap.  Collectivism is marked by a distinct attachment to the state as the source of life.  All social and all individual crises thus become a matter of government purview.  Individual self reliance is a terrifying notion to them.  In fact, many Intellectual Idiots have lived on the dole since they were born, moving from their family’s money, to state money through grants and loans.  It is not unheard of for these people to become career students, avoiding work for years, and then moving on to a bureaucratic job when the free money runs out.  They cannot fathom why anyone would rebel against the system, because they are a part of a select group which has always benefited from it.  How could the federal government be bad when it has paid their way for half of their existence?

4)  Disconnection From Reality 

The Intellectual Idiot is not necessarily afraid to acknowledge that the system is troubled.  For them, the federal government is not infallible, even if their favorite party is in office, but, it IS unapproachable.  Academics revel in the disastrous nature of government.  They see political and social catastrophe as a sort of mental gameplay.  An exercise in theoretical structures.  For them, America is not a country built on an enduring set of principles, but a petri dish; an ongoing anthropological experiment that they can watch through a microscope at their leisure.  The idea that the disasters they view from the safety of their sub-cultural bubble might one day come to haunt them is a distant one.

5)  Abhors Those Who Step Out Of Bounds 

Have you ever entertained a view that went against the grain of the mainstream only to be met with accusations of extremism and sneers befitting a leper?  You were probably talking to an intellectual idiot.  The rules, no matter how distasteful or meaningless, hold special power for these people.  They make the system what it is, and when the system is your great provider, you might lean towards defending it, even in the wake of oligarchy and abuse.   This penchant for overt structure for the sake of centralization is especially damaging to our Constitutional rights, because alternative solutions are never treated as viable.  During the panel discussion in Helena, pro-collectivists consistently tried to redirect the conversation away from the 10th Amendment as a method to counter federal overreach.  They did this by bringing up abuses of the states, including slavery and segregation, as if that somehow negated the nightmare of the NDAA.

Ironically, they saw the use of violence by the federal government to push states to recognize civil liberties as perfectly practical.  But, the use of force by states to protect the same civil liberties from Washington D.C.?  That would be lunacy…

6)  Believes Academia To Be Free From Bias

The Intellectual Idiot assimilates every bit of information he is given at the university level without a second look.  He simply assumes it is all true, and if something appears mismatched, it is only because he does not yet fully grasp it.  Very rarely will he go beyond designated source materials to get a different opinion.  This habit is the root of his idiocy.  Being that most universities draw from the same exact materials, and peer reviewed papers are usually tested by those with the exact same underlying educational backgrounds, I can’t see how it is possible for much variety of thought to form.  Whether intentional or not, severe bias cannot be avoided in this kind of environment without considerable strength of heart.

The shock that these people express when faced with Liberty Movement philosophies is quite real.  They have spent the very focus of their future life within the confines of a miniscule spectrum of truth; like seeing technicolor for the first time after a long limited existence in black and white.

It’s hard to say when it all really began, but for decades, Americans have been progressively tuned like pliable radio antenna to the song of the elitist intellectual.  Many of us want to be him.  Others want to follow him, straight to oblivion if need be, as long as they don’t have to blaze their own trail.  This is not to say all professionals are a danger to the Republic.  Some are fantastic proponents of freedom.  But, without a drastic reversal in current educational trends, I see little hope of Constitutional guardians becoming a mainstay of U.S. campuses in the near term.

With mashed potato minds fresh from the psychological Cuisinart of public schools, the next generation in line to inherit the most fantastically schizophrenic nation in history will be like candy for social engineers; utterly unequipped for the mission.  Strangely, the drastic financial slide the elites have also triggered might hold the key to our salvation.  The next batch of would be statist citizens may find themselves so poor that higher educational brainwashing will be impossible to afford, giving them precious time to think for themselves, and come to their own conclusions.   As they say, in all things, there is a silver lining…

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Boko Haram, the Case of a Hijacked Revolution

Boko Haram, the Case of a Hijacked Revolution

By Honourable Saka 
My Photo

 Nigeria, officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states. According to the CIA World Fact Book, Nigeria is slightly more than twice the size of California. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast in the south lies on the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean. The above description paints a picture of how exposed Nigerian borders could be at any time.
The three largest and most influential ethnic groups in Nigeria are the HausaIgbo and Yoruba. In terms of religion Nigeria is roughly split into halves between Muslims in the North and Christians in the South. However, a very small minority practice traditional religion, as often portrayed in Nigerian/African movies.
Recently, the incidences of bombings which create general insecurity in Nigeria have become frequent and much more dangerous. During the 50th independence anniversary celebrations, a powerful bomb exploded at the Eagle Square, killing at least 12 people and maiming others. A similar bomb exploded at a military cantonment in Abuja killing several people, leaving many others wounded. This was suddenly followed by a terrific multiple bomb blasts that left at least 143 people dead, 100 bodies were taken to a morgue at Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital in the city centre.
In another instance, a powerful bomb detonated at the Nigeria’s Police Headquarters killing about a dozen and injuring many. Then there was the United Nations’ headquarters in Abuja where 22 people were killed and several others wounded following a suicide bomb attack.  Just a few weeks later, another suicide bomb attack happened in a church killing 43 and injuring 72 of Christian worshipers. This month (8th April 2012), during the Easter ceremony, officials say at least 38 people died in a car bomb somewhere in the northern city of Kaduna. A few hours later, another bomb detonated in the central city of Jos, living tens of people wounded. The list goes on and on…
Boko Haram’s attack in Kano killed about hundred people

Fear and Panic spread across Nigeria
Nowadays, the possibility that a bomb may explode in Nigeria, at any public gathering such as Independence Day celebrations, Christmas, Easter, and traditional festivals, cannot be in doubt. The US Embassy in Nigeria therefore warned its citizens on April 17 2012, that “Boko Haram” may be planning more attacks in the Nigerian capital, including hotels.
“Boko Haram has been blamed for most attacks in Nigeria, but the dimension and scope of the current bomb attacks have shifted the attention of experts to the possibility of external influence. The bomb attacks according to experts have become bigger and more sophisticated. The targets also have become more diversified and include both Muslims and Christians, mosques and churches: a clear departure from its original focus”, reports Danjuma Abdullahi.
But what was the “original focus” of Boko Haram? Have their initial agenda been hijacked and by whom? There is a strong belief among many Nigerians that some politicians in the country secretly fund this radical group. Others also point to the possibility of external influence. After all it is an established fact that even rebel leaders like Charles Taylor was secretly funded by certain western countries.
In a recent TV interview conducted with Dr Abdulrahman Hamisu, an expert from the University of Abuja, made shocking observation:
“Let us take ourselves back to the predictions of America that by the year 2015, Nigeria is going to break into different entities. And if you look at what is happening today, it tallies with the steps and the methodology that has to be used in order to attain that aim. It was reported that many CIA, FBI and Mossad agents were allowed access to Abuja in order to ‘assist our security agencies’. From what is happening in the Middle East and other places where CIA and Mossad have been to, (it has) shown clearly that the same pattern that is been used (in the Middle East) is currently been replayed here in Nigeria; only that there is a slight modification because of the difference in the actors in Nigeria”.
In Nigeria, the terrorists are not fighting against (anybody), but are fighting for a foreign enemy.
In a related interview, Mr Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, a Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Coordinator (Nigeria), had this to say:
“There is no way a fellow Nigerian will kill another Nigerian, and you could see that this crisis is coming from different perspective; some people from the outside, are determined to bring down this country”.

Boko Haram, Who are they? What were their demands?
Since 2002, there have been many reported clashes, particularly in the North of the country, between government forces and the Islamists Boko Haram, militant jihadists whom we’re currently only told ‘seek to establish sharia law’. The group was founded in 2002 by Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf. Yusuf is hostile to ‘democracy’ and the secular education system. He vowed that “this war that is yet to start would continue for long” if the “political” and “educational” system were not changed. (www.naijan.com).

First of all, it must be understood that the political system in Nigeria, is characterized by massive corruption and of course corruption in Nigeria is the worst on the African continent. This is a fact that nobody can dispute.
Reportedly, Boko Haram started as a small non-violent group who were often seen in the markets and the communities, preaching their anti-western ideologies. Their initial and real demands were as follows:
·         Nigerian politicians and government officials must abolish their flamboyant lifestyles which are often inspired by foreign (western) culture. This desire of politicians to live like western celebrities, driving expensive cars, living in posh houses, buying properties abroad, travelling on expensive shopping spree, sending their families to study in expensive overseas universities, have resulted in mass corruption and the stealing of state funds at a time when most Nigerians are living below the poverty line.
          The group also demanded the abolishment of western (colonial) educational system in Nigeria. They believed that the current educational system in Nigeria is a colonial tool that has distorted African history and has cast a dark shadow over the African culture. The colonial educational system has produced bad and corrupt leaders. Therefore they called western education “a sin”. This is not new because even Kwame Nkrumah in his book “Consciencism” (pg.62) proved that: “The history of Africa, as presented by European scholars, has been encumbered with malicious myths”.  He also said “there are certain feudal-minded elements (public officials) who became imbued with European ideals either through direct European education or through hobnobbing with the local colonial administrative system” (pg.69).
·         They also advocated for the establishment of a sharia law.
Unfortunately, their third demand is the only thing which the mainstream media seem to talk about, while deliberately ignoring the two most important demands. Is it because the other two demands are a threat to the imperial powers and their puppet corrupt politicians? But this is clearly understandable because the corporate media today is serving an agenda: to defend the interest of the global elites who want to enslave humanity using puppet and corrupt politicians as their pawns.
Gradually, Boko Haram strengthened their sphere of influence and became a radical political party determined to take their anti-corruption and anti-western culture to the highest level. This posed an immediate danger to the existing political establishment who did not welcome the anti-corruption campaign and also the imperial powers who saw an imminent danger to the colonial educational system they have successfully imposed on the Nigerian people.
Then one day in 2009, the then President Yar’Adua ordered the persecution and aggressive crack-downs by the Nigerian security service. This brought about a violent revenge from Boko Haram. The crackdown was brutal and resulted in the death of around 700 innocent people. Many of the victims were publicly executed on suspicions that they were members of Boko Haram even without any clear proof and without a fair trial.

But who could have advised the president on such a course?
 Well, according to information available, and from Dr Abdulrahman Hamisu, of  the University of AbujaIt was reported that many CIA, FBI and Mossad agents were invited to Abuja in order to ‘assist the Nigerian security agencies’ and to advise them on how to deal with Boko Haram. Therefore it is reasonable to beleive that the leaders were following    directives from these foreign “advisers”.

Were their Demands Legitimate?
Of course yes. It is a well-established fact that politically, Nigeria is the most corrupt country in Africa.According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (Abuja), about 74% of Nigerians in the north live in abject poverty, while 63% in the south also live below the poverty line. The major question one would ask is: how could that be? Nigeria is a country that is so rich in natural resources, notable among these are: natural gas, petroleum, tin, iron ore, coal, limestone, niobium, lead, zinc, arable land, timber and many more. Additionally, Nigeria has a  huge human resource reserves, a population of over 150 million people, most of them very intelligent, creative, productive and above all hardworking.
According to Garba Sani, an analyst at Pan-Africanist International
“From the perspective of Northern Nigerians, since the days of colonialism, Western style education and Christianity have been imposed upon them as a package from the south. The response to this has been a resistance to Western education and the Western way of life. However, this is not simply a cultural sentiment. The civil servants and politicians produced by this system are seen conspicuously wasting money. Poor Nigerians see their politicians flying abroad, shopping in Dubai, and sending their children to expensive Western schools. Consequently people feel that the leadership is devoid of justice, and when they call for the abolishment of western educational system, fighting corruption and the establishment of Sharia law it is not about religious piety but reflects a desire for a more just system.
The resentment fostered among the youth of Northern Nigeria is where Boko Haram has its beginnings”.
It must be understood that Boko Haram originally started as a revolution which declared a war on the corrupt lifestyle of many Nigerian politicians. The leaders of this group clearly understood that corruption in government, embezzlement of public funds by politicians is part of the gentleman’s way of stealing. To the politicians, once they can “balance the books” at the end of the day, it means they can steal as much as they want. Many politicians often embark on foreign trips and spend as much state funds as they wish at the expense of the taxpayer. Such exorbitant lifestyles of public officials in Africa only came about as a result of the public officials’ desire to live like western celebrities. However, this lifestyle is not a true African culture. Traditionally, it is a “taboo” (sin) for any an African to steal. In some communities, a thief can be banished (exiled) for stealing. Therefore how come African leaders (politicians) are looting and stealing from the national coffers without any guilt? It is basically because they do not appreciate the African culture.
It is said that if anyone wants to influence a people, first it is important to influence/destroy their culture, their educational system, their thought and their beliefs.
Kwame Nkrumah in his book “Neo-Colonialism” (pg.35) held that, the West used the old colonialist methods of religious, educational and cultural infiltration to influence the African mentality and our current way of life.
This is why many people, Boko Haram included have every reason to believe that there is the need for a radical educational reforms to be implemented: an educational system that will harness African norms and values. There is also the need to fight corruption in Africa that is inspired by the western fashionable lifestyle.

Poverty in Nigeria, a Political Tool
Many Nigerian writers have underscored the fact that poverty in the country is artificial. It was created by a political incompetence and bad economic policies.. The solution likewise requires a political approach. In an article
“I’d Rather Bomb ASO ROCK Than Have My Children As Slaves (A warning to leaders marked by the beast)” the author reveals the frustration of the ordinary Nigerian which is as a result of the bad economic policies and the corrupt attitude of the ruling elites. In strong-worded statements the author writes:
“I’ll rather have all the senators, the house of assembly members, and even the Aso Rock (the presidential palace) -all those who squander more than 25 percent of the national budget bombed and wiped out than have my children continue in slavery to this hell called Nigeria and its politicians. It does not matter who amongst these evil leaders are reading this and planning on how to stretch their “human looting” to me, you will perish in your thoughts! I’ll rather have all PDP ( Peoples Democratic Party) chieftains and all they have stolen in decades wiped off the earth than let my children feel the helpless pain I was born into and have lived with because of Nigeria. I would rather start every form of evil with those leaders who, from every angle, compel Nigerians into all forms of evil as means for survival. I would rather be a friend of Osama Bin Laden, though dead, than shake hands with these black monsters who call themselves “honourables” in Nigeria. And my life is not more precious to me than uprooting every tree of evil in my land and destroying those soulless leaders and restoring to those who live within Nigeria the freedom that is rightfully theirs as citizens of life. “These are the silent and helpless cries in every Nigerian youth’s soul, the cries of people who, with me, abhor the evil foundation of Nigeria and its leadership. (Ikechukwu Enyiagu)
Therefore the Boko Haram revolution determined that the only way to end this cycle and to give a true meaning to the political system is to abolish the western-inspired lifestyles of the politicians, and to go back to our African lifestyle. This they believed could be achieved by implementing new educational reforms that clearly reflects the African values. A parallel line was therefore drawn between the current educational system, (a system that projects wealth, riches and exorbitant lifestyle as the only symptoms of a successful life) and the corruption in government. Incidentally, today’s educational system has become a privilege, rather than a right. Today, it is only the rich that can acquire knowledge (degrees), since the cost of high school and tertiary education are too expensive that most people can never afford it; or they may spend their entire life struggling to offset the debt that come with it.
Unfortunately, the powers that be, have in one way or the other managed to hijack a true revolution and turned it to a violent bombing campaign, discrediting their genuine intentions and  demands.

Rebel groups in Africa, how are they funded?
Over the years, many militants and rebel groups have propped up across Africa: the Al-Shabbab, the Tuareg Rebels (Mali), the Lord’s Resistance Army (Uganda), the National Liberation Forces (Burundi),The West Side Boys (Sierra Leon), Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FLR)the Congolese Revolutionary Movement (DR Congo)  the Somali Pirates, Boko Haram (Nigeria), The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Nigeria) and many more. Shockingly, many of them have often been spotted carrying very sophisticated weapons RPG-7, ZPU, and many weapons that can take down planes (anti-aircraft missiles). These are not weapons that could be manufactured in Nigeria, Somalia nor Uganda. Therefore how do these militants receive the weapons? Some of the answers are not far-fetched.
  Al-Shabaab rebels with large quantities of RPG missiles
During NATO’s war in Libya (2011), France and Qatar under the UN’s watch delivered weapons in large quantities to the rebels whom the Western press often referred to as “activists” and “revolutionaries”. In addition to the weapons, the rebels also received communication equipment which facilitated and coordinated their movements across the continent smoothly. Since many of the rebels consider themselves to be allies, who are working for a common purpose, it wasn’t difficult for some of the weapons that were delivered to rebels in Libya to be quickly mobilized and smuggled to other rebel groups in the West African region. It was recently reported that large amount of weapons from Libya have been found in Nigeria.
Some kidnappers in Nigeria sometimes mistakenly called Boko Haram,armed with RPGs
In fact, the nature of weapons that are currently in the rebel’s hands are too sophisticated and expensive that the cost may run into hundreds of millions of US dollars. But how could the rebel fighters, often wanted for prosecution get the ability to buy those expensive weapons in such large quantities? No matter how rich the rebel leaders might be their continues ability to afford the weapons in large quantities for such a very long period of time would be impossible to imagine, if they have no form of sponsorship and the corporation of a few puppet politicians.
Recently, a Nigerian military task force stormed a militant hideout in the city and recovered six assembled bombs and another one under construction, Lieutenant Iweha Ikedichi told reporters. The bombs were made with drink cans and a drum of around 50 litres. This is an indication that the terrorists in Nigeria currently have experts who know how to assemble bombs. The fact that the militants can now manufacture bombs right in Nigeria is a very dangerous development. But the question still remains: who is behind these militants?
It is undeniable fact that many of the rebel groups in Africa today, especially in Central Africa (Al-Sahabaab) are real terrorists who have been destabilizing the peace and security across the region. However, it must also be understood that there were many other groups like the Niyabinghi warriors, who fought against the corrupting power of the Elders and paganism. There was also the Nelson Mandela’s Armed Anti-apartheid Rebellion which used armed struggle as a last resort to free his people from a racist apartheid government.
In this regard, it must be exposed that the case of Boko Haram is one of a hijacked revolution. For all we know, the real Boko Haram group may not be the ones in the news today. It is a revolution whose main mission posed a direct threat to the Neo-colonialists and their puppet corrupt politicians. But thanks to a few terrorists groups and the corporate mainstream media, the hijack of such a true revolution appears to have succeeded. Whereas the original campaign to fight corruption in Nigeria and to modify the colonial educational system has become a fantasy.

1)  Kwame Nkrumah (1964) “Consciencism”. Panaf Books: London
2)  Kwame Nkrumah (1965) “Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism”. Panaf Books: London
By Honourable Saka
The author is a regular writer and a political analyst on African affairs, and a well-known social commentator in Africa. He is the editor of “The Doctor’s Report”, your most reliable source of critical analysis on African affairs. He is a strong Pan-Africanist, a youth activist and the founder of the “Leaders of Tomorrow”, a transformational and inspirational group of possible future leaders. Please visit his blog at:www.honourablesaka.blogspot.co.uk and reach him by Email at:honourablesaka@yahoo.co.uk

The Indian/Russian Mach 3 Carrier-Killer Missile

Russia's 'Shipwreck' missile yahont2 Brahmos2 



China and Pakistan should pay attention to India’s newest anti-ship missile, the BrahMos. It is an anti-ship missile with a 660-pound warhead. It has a highly sophisticated ramjet engine, which speeds a three-ton missile to its target at Mach-3 speed.
In its initial flight trajectory it hugs the sea, making it impossible for jet fighters, anti-missile systems and rapid firing guns to stop it. In its terminal phase, it rises up to the sky and then drops on its prey like a giant harpoon. The missile’s high speed causes extensive damage to a ship on impact and the 660 pounds of explosives it carries cause the rest of the damage.
It can also be described as a sea-denial missile – denying an enemy access to the sea it defends.
The missile, originally called the Yakhont, was designed by the Soviets to kill U.S. aircraft carriers 200 miles away. In 1991 the United States expressed concern about its development and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, a U.S. friend at the time, shelved the project. This turned out to be India’s gain.
India took over the development work in 1998, agreeing to spend over US$250 million on the project. The Russian missile engine was married to an Indian guidance system in a 50:50 partnership, thus giving it the unique name of BrahMos, after India’s Brahmaputra River and Russia’s Moskva River.

The Chinese asked the Russians for similar collaboration on a similar missile system, but were flatly turned down. Instead the Russians equipped Chinese destroyers with Moskit class sea-skimming ramjet missiles. These are very capable missiles with a range of 90 to 150 kilometers. But these could neither be launched from aircraft nor have land-to-land use.
India expects about US$10 billion in orders for these missiles. The production line is gearing up to make 1,000 of these in various versions over the next ten years. If an additional export order for 1,000 more missiles is obtained the production line will have to be significantly expanded. Right now there no export orders – that will limit production to about 50-100 missiles a year.
A comparable missile in the U.S. inventory is the Tomahawk cruise missile, which has an extended range and larger explosive payload than others. But it is a subsonic missile, and thus can fall prey to fighter jets or anti-air or anti-missile system.
Collaboration between the Russians and Indians has produced a marvelous weapon. Future collaboration between the two nations is in the cards, in developing a fifth-generation fighter jet, a new tank design, etc. This is helpful to both countries. The Russians can defray the development costs and India gets a sophisticated weapon. Barring a few hiccups this collaboration will continue.

India has no intention of killing U.S. aircraft carriers, hence its development and operation were not questioned by the United States. On the other hand, a Chinese naval flotilla approaching the Indian Ocean on an aggressive mission would be fair game for this missile.
The same is true of any aggressive moves by the Pakistani Navy. The latter has always envisioned attacking India’s offshore oil and gas fields close to Mumbai, and repeating the Muslim destruction of India’s Somnath Temple on the Gujarat coast, 900 years back.
The version of the BrahMos that went into operation in 2005 is the naval version only. Another version, which can be carried by an aircraft or used in land-to-land combat, is still under development and should be operational in about three years.
Collaboration on the missile’s development was not easy. In 1998 the Russians were strictly following the guidelines of the Missile Technology Control Regime and would not export any missile technology beyond the 300-kilometer (186-mile) range. It also would not give India any help in building a sophisticated guidance system.

Hence this missile has a limited range of 290 kilometers (180 miles) and has an Indian guidance system. All testing and development since 1998 have been carried out in India, with the Russians as a 50-percent partner.
Beginning in 2002 when the missile first flew, it surprised most observers. Few thought that Russian-Indian collaboration could be successful and produce a weapon of that sophistication. Now it is a reality. Some Indian Navy ships are already equipped with it. Soon the air and land version will join the Indian forces, making them highly potent.
This technology acquisition and development was so important for India that the military went out of its way not to draw international attention. Technology transfer arrangements were such that no MTCR guidelines were broken.
Also in India’s neighborhood, Pakistan has acquired U.S. Harpoon and French Exocet missiles, and China has been buying Russian Sovremenny-class destroyers – hence India had to do something unique to put both China and Pakistan on the defensive. It appears that India has now achieved that task.
Although the missile is so successful, India was expecting other nations to order it. But no export orders have been received so far, despite an intense sales pitch over the last three years. None of the potential customers wishes to kill U.S. or other nations’ aircraft carriers; hence they do not need such a powerful weapon. Also, at US$2.5 million apiece the price is a bit steep. The original requirement of 1,000 missiles for the Indian and Russian navies still stands.

The future of this missile in Indian hands is very bright. It will permanently keep the Chinese navy out of the Indian Ocean. Closer to home, the belligerent Pakistan is unmindful of these developments. Their Harpoon missile inventory is very capable, but is subsonic and has a very limited range. The BrahMos, carried on ships and planes, can be fired from 200 miles away and hit its target with pinpoint accuracy.
The scramjet-powered BrahMos-2 will again be developed with Russian collaboration. That is the only way India will lay its hands on scramjet technology. The irony is that the MTCR will prevent its range from exceeding 300 kilometers.
This development work will take three years and will involve 20 Russian and Indian institutes and industrial units to finish the job. The only thing known about this newer missile, the BrahMos-2, is that it will fly at about Mach-5 to Mach-7 speed and will beat any known anti aircraft or anti-missile defense system.

It’s a new cruise missile called the Brahmos. And it’s what reportedly has Pakistan’s defence planners scurrying to develop a land attack cruise missile, possibly a modified Harpoon missile acquired from the US in the 80s and 90s.
Brahmos combines the names of two rivers: the Brahmaputra and the Mosocow. It symbolises the close partnership that exists between India and Russia.
Here’s why the Brahmos is considered the world’s finest. It can fly at speeds of up to Mach 3, three times the speed of sound. It can destroy ships and targets on land. It can be launched from the air, submarines and onboard ships.
The Brahmos will be deployed on the Sukhoi 30 MKI, the mainstay of the Indian Air Force. The Sukhoi’s ability to fly thousands of kilometres after being re-fuelled in-air means that the Brahmos can be used to strike targets across large parts of South Asia.
"It is the fastest and most precise cruise-missile in the world," affirms Pravin Pathak, Additional GM BrahMos Aerospace.
Today, with Russian assistance, and missiles like the Brahmos, the Indian Navy’s frontline ships are fitted with the fastest and possibly most lethal anti-ship weapons ever developed

America Is Losing In Afghanistan, Yet It Plans To Remain

The return of “Taliban”: Afghanistan is waiting for America is preparing, the CSTO is watching

Maria Yanovskaya

The commander of the Afghan National Army camp on the outskirts of Kabul Mohed (Dar Yasin / Associated Press)

Last week in Moscow, held a regular meeting of the Club World Economics and International Affairs entitled “The situation in Afghanistan and the fate of Central Asia” , which were made by a special presidential envoy to AfghanistanZamir Kabulov and CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha . The discussion was attended by leading Russian experts on the region. It was chaired by the chief editor of the magazine “Russia in Global Affairs” Fyodor Lukyanov.

At the meeting discussed the impact of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, the possibility of the situation in the region after 2014, when suddenly the U.S. and the Joint Security Force (RSD), as promised, will withdraw its troops from the country. As the discussion proceeded according to the rules, “Chatham House” (direct quote is only possible with the personal approval of the speaker), the “Fergana” offers readers a summary of the main ideas voiced during the meeting.

America is losing – and remains

The main paradox, formulated by experts on the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is: “America has lost the war, but it is not going away.” America today requires, first, to minimize loss, and secondly, to gain a foothold in the region to be able to participate in various regional conflicts and to influence regional politics.

In favor of the argument that the United States, contrary to the statement of Obama’s not going to leave Afghanistan, says “the scope and depth of military construction, which is taking America in the IRA: there is information that the U.S. is building a huge underground military bases with a developed infrastructure.” For example, south of Kandahar, built an underground base at 4,000 troops, with two runways.

According to the speakers, the U.S. has no single idea of what to do in Afghanistan, and as a result – there is no clear tactics.Russian experts explain this contradiction between the security agencies of the United States and the lack of interdepartmental coordination. “They (Americans) are, like, everyone knows – but the conclusions do not.”

Founders Club of the global economy and world politics are the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy (SWAP) and the Department of World Economy and World Politics NIU “Higher School of Economics.” Club meetings traditionally are informal and are conducted according to the rules, “Chatham House”: a direct quote is only possible with the personal approval of the speaker.

The Taliban will come back to power?

In Afghanistan, there is little doubt that the “Taliban” will soon come again in power.

The Taliban benefit information, propaganda war. Local people no longer see the American soldiers “liberating” the Afghans from the high expectations entering the U.S. forces gave way to disappointment during the foreign presence in Afghanistan has developed a terrible corruption. Whereas previously the level of corruption was “acceptable”, but now officials are anticipating a quick emigration (after the Taliban came to power), and bid up prices.

Today, only the Bamyan is relatively peaceful province – are in all other military operations. The Taliban are quite strong and begin a military campaign, which is confined to a suspended term of the withdrawal of foreign troops in 2014.

According to various estimates, the Taliban militants 35,000 professional and small detachments of the so-called “seasonal army,” consisting of representatives from local tribes. These forces are opposed to 90 thousand U.S. Army and just over 50 thousand soldiers of the coalition.

Still there is a proper Afghan army – it’s 126 battalions, of which their own conduct combat operations, the most optimistic projections, may 20-22 Battalion. But the most dangerous – in the Afghan army has no fighting spirit, she can not resist the “Taliban”: soldiers do not believe they are fighting with the Taliban “in Afghanistan.”

Initially, the U.S. and its allies had the idea of increasing the number of Afghan army and police to 350,000 people, but for the maintenance of so many security forces need $ 8 billion a year. And today is the question of who will pay for the army and police? It was then decided to reduce the number to 250 thousand people – it’s $ 4 billion is anticipated that $ 2 billion would give the U.S. another 500 million gain the Afghans themselves, and to collect the remaining money will have to “let the hat.”For example, from Russia waiting for 10 million dollars a year for ten years.

By the way, Russia agree to pay the money – but Moscow insists that it was not a direct donation, and cooperation with Afghanistan on a bilateral basis. And then, perhaps, the IRA will be given and more than ten million.

Taliban outperform Americans in guerrilla warfare – and Russian experts are wondering why the U.S. can not conduct effective antiguerrilla event.

Americans also allow the probability of return of the Taliban into power. The desire to stay in Afghanistan pushes them to negotiate with the Taliban. The Taliban, in turn, is also interested in the negotiations: they need for the international community, and the U.S. in the first place, to help Afghanistan and upon their return to Kabul. And so the leaders of the “Taliban” is now making statements that should remove the external concerns: for example, the Taliban said that during the previous government had made mistakes, which are not repeated, that the “Taliban” is not seeking to expand in Central Asia, his interests confined to the Afghanistan.

Russian experts are inclined to believe that the Taliban can not be – all of these promises can be broken if he wins the Taliban: “The winners are not judged, they can change their vows.” In addition, the management of “Taliban” today, in principle, can not guarantee anything: among the Taliban came, “thugs”, “jihadists with a twisted mind, who do not need anything – just to fight.”Nevertheless, Russia is ready to negotiate with appropriate representatives of the “Taliban”.

Slipping non-military projects

Failures have comprehended and two “non-lethal” project and the U.S. allies in Afghanistan: the fight against drug production and the process of national reconciliation.

During the year the area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan increased by 7 percent and the price of opium has increased by 43 percent. This jump in prices was buried all the ideas to combat drug production: while in Afghanistan there is nothing that would attract people more than the cultivation of opium poppy.

Drug production “feeds” and “Taliban”: 70 percent of the budget going to the Taliban inside Afghanistan. First of all, this “tax” that pays the “Taliban” drug trafficking. Second, the Taliban are paying tribute to local businesses, and thirdly, NATO members also pay a “Taliban” for the safety of transportation: No truck or tank truck, which had not paid the Taliban and still safely reached the destination.

Stalled and the process of interethnic reconciliation, which should be based economic and social development. But all the money coming from international donors, go to military spending.

In addition, the process of international settlement “sabotage” national minorities living in northern Afghanistan (Uzbeks, Tajiks, Turkmen, Shiite Hazaras): they are set “antipushtunski” and feared that Pashtuns (Karzai and the Taliban) will be able to agree among themselves to the detriment of Northerners. At a Russian experts meet like this: “After September 11, Northerners received 75% of the seats in government – and did nothing, they began to be perceived as regional leaders.” The logic of Russia’s response to such claims “northerners” looks like this: yes, we are cooperating with the Pashtuns, because they – the titular nation in Afghanistan, but the titular nation, like an older brother to help minorities.

This approach has caused controversy in the expert community, at a meeting of the Club: it was observed that the topic of “rights and obligations of titular nation” is quite slippery, especially if you draw an analogy with the Russian reality.

Central Asia and the Collective Security Treaty Organization

The situation in Central Asia today is favorable for the emergence in the region, extremist Islamist organizations – and fundamentalist regimes that support the Taliban today are spending millions of dollars to build such infrastructures (we are talking about Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, maybe – about Qatar, but especially – about the Saudi Arabia). In Central Asia, a growing number of supporters of radical forms of Islam (according to some non-traditional Islam in Kyrgyzstan is supported by 50-70 per cent of the population). Add to this horrendous growth of corruption in the region, economic and social problems, the growth of inter-ethnic conflicts.

Powerful organized crime, which is often a substitute for government institutions. Thus, at the meeting were told that during theevents of June 2010 in Kyrgyzstan, it turns out, it was possible to stop the carnage, but for this it was necessary to refer to the “looking” …

The countries of Central Asia, Moscow’s opinion, underestimate the seriousness of the threats emanating from Afghanistan: “They think that then everything will be so.”

Russia insists that Central Asia was built powerful military infrastructure that could counter American military construction – but Moscow’s partners in the CSTO concerned mutual claims and can not take collective efforts to create a single “line of defense.” At a meeting of the Club was opened said: “If we want stability in the region was, – you need to have a high level of solidarity and mutual support, and as long as the countries – members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s national interests are above regional ones. If the level of solidarity in the Collective Security Treaty Organization was in Europe – many of the problems would be solved. ”

In creating its military infrastructure in Central Asia are interested in and the Americans, who – to the displeasure of Moscow – establishing bilateral relations with countries in the region, neglecting the cooperation with the CSTO. For example, offer to set up joint teams drug police: half – NATO members, half of – the local staff.

NATO does not want to work with the CSTO, although the Organization of Collective Security Treaty offered cooperation to curb drug trafficking and “a number of problems.” According to Russian experts, NATO does so, because that “it is more convenient to plant,” driving a wedge between Moscow and its partners in the military bloc.

The conversation that took place in the “Higher School of Economics,” was informative and frank rich. However, experts neat silent with respect to a fundamental thesis of the CSTO.

Main reason why NATO and the U.S. ignore the Collective Security Treaty Organization – incompetence of this organization.Among its allies in the military bloc can not be mined borders, as between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, the Allies could not hold each other the economic blockade , or to disperse to vote on key issues, such as Syria. Confronting the CSTO member states will last as long as their leaders are still alive, among these countries there are contradictions which are not overcome, even in the common threat – and, consequently, their union is anything but not a military bloc. So, to deal with the Collective Security Treaty Organization in the development of a joint military strategy – just a time to lose.

In this situation, the establishment of bilateral relations with Central Asian countries – the only effective tactic for the United States that seek to optimize their presence in the region. Moscow also has to balance the growing U.S. influence in Central Asia, but a polite “figure of silence” around the viability of the CSTO, as we see it, the formation of Russia’s strategy in the region, including in the area of collective security.

Maria Yanovskaya

The international news agency “Fergana”

Great Gaming Russia in Central Asia

Great Gaming Russia in Central Asia

For the sake of Afghanistan, U.S. officials routinely invoke the importance of nurturing economic growth across South and Central Asia. But when it comes to advancing policies meant to increase regional trade, Washington has shown little effort to ease the geopolitical differences between itself and one of Afghanistan’s key neighbors: Russia.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proclaimedlate last year in Dushanbe, “we want Afghanistan to be at the crossroads of economic opportunities going north and south and east and west, which is why it’s so critical to more fully integrate the economies of the countries in this region in South and Central Asia.”That sounds promising. So what is the problem? As George Washington University research professor Marlene Laruelle writes, present U.S. policies, like the “New Silk Road” initiative that Clinton hints at above, reflect an underlying economic rationale “to exclude Moscow from new geopolitical configurations.”

Echoing this interpretation is Joshua Kucera, a Washington-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to Slate and ForeignPolicy.com. He points to Washington’s call to tie together the electrical grids of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as Washington’s placement of the Central Asian states in a new State Department bureau. He writes, “What these all have in common is that they attempt to weaken the economic (and as a result, political) monopoly that Russia, by dint of the centralized Soviet infrastructure, has on these countries.”

Moscow already thinks that Washington’s promotion of NATO’s eastward expansion is a U.S.-led containment strategy. As we have seen in that part of the world, however, Washington’s attempts to marginalize Russia in its Central Asian post-Soviet sphere will bump up against the region’s deep historical ties, cultural influence and geographic contiguity with the Kremlin. This all might seem obvious, but it’s apparently not, as it would require foreign-policy planners to appreciate the overriding interests of neighboring great powers as they pertain to Afghanistan, even the ones we abhore. That will be difficult, and it is important to illuminate why.

Too many in Washington consider a less confrontational approach a sign of weakness and militant internationalism a sign of strength. But in South and Central Asia, U.S. officials must understand that what they perceive to be in America’s interest does not always line up with the prospect of regional connectivity. Washington’s pursuit of primacy in this region is erecting hurdles to the very liberal-internationalist goals that it claims to promote. If economic growth is to have any reliable chance of success, then the United States should not be attempting to foreclose constructive avenues for increased integration.

Pursuing policies that place the region’s general interest before America’s does not convey weakness. Rather, it is a recognition that some countries are better positioned to be key players in the region, especially in light of the last eleven years, which have amply demonstrated the limits of Washington’s ability to impose lasting change in Afghanistan.

As my colleague Doug Bandow alluded to the other day, Russia is not America’s “number-one geopolitical foe”—it is a declining power with nukes. Whether officials in Washington are willing to countenance such thoughts is anyone’s guess. However, given the disproportionate power of foreign-policy hawks inside the Beltway—of the liberal and conservative persuasion—I wouldn’t bet on it.

Why Do They Hate Us?–The real war on women is in the Middle East.

Muslim Bride Sexy Eyes Pics

Why Do They Hate Us?

The real war on women is in the Middle East.

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In “Distant View of a Minaret,” the late and much-neglected Egyptian writer Alifa Rifaat begins her short story with a woman so unmoved by sex with her husband that as he focuses solely on his pleasure, she notices a spider web she must sweep off the ceiling and has time to ruminate on her husband’s repeated refusal to prolong intercourse until she too climaxes, “as though purposely to deprive her.” Just as her husband denies her an orgasm, the call to prayer interrupts his, and the man leaves. After washing up, she loses herself in prayer — so much more satisfying that she can’t wait until the next prayer — and looks out onto the street from her balcony. She interrupts her reverie to make coffee dutifully for her husband to drink after his nap. Taking it to their bedroom to pour it in front of him as he prefers, she notices he is dead. She instructs their son to go and get a doctor. “She returned to the living room and poured out the coffee for herself. She was surprised at how calm she was,” Rifaat writes.

In a crisp three-and-a-half pages, Rifaat lays out a trifecta of sex, death, and religion, a bulldozer that crushes denial and defensiveness to get at the pulsating heart of misogyny in the Middle East. There is no sugarcoating it. They don’t hate us because of our freedoms, as the tired, post-9/11 American cliché had it. We have no freedoms because they hate us, as this Arab woman so powerfully says.

Yes: They hate us. It must be said.

Some may ask why I’m bringing this up now, at a time when the region has risen up, fueled not by the usual hatred of America and Israel but by a common demand for freedom. After all, shouldn’t everyone get basic rights first, before women demand special treatment? And what does gender, or for that matter, sex, have to do with the Arab Spring? But I’m not talking about sex hidden away in dark corners and closed bedrooms. An entire political and economic system — one that treats half of humanity like animals — must be destroyed along with the other more obvious tyrannies choking off the region from its future. Until the rage shifts from the oppressors in our presidential palaces to the oppressors on our streets and in our homes, our revolution has not even begun.

So: Yes, women all over the world have problems; yes, the United States has yet to elect a female president; and yes, women continue to be objectified in many “Western” countries (I live in one of them). That’s where the conversation usually ends when you try to discuss why Arab societies hate women.

But let’s put aside what the United States does or doesn’t do to women. Name me an Arab country, and I’ll recite a litany of abuses fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend. When more than 90 percent of ever-married women in Egypt — including my mother and all but one of her six sisters — have had their genitals cut in the name of modesty, then surely we must all blaspheme. When Egyptian women are subjected to humiliating “virginity tests” merely for speaking out, it’s no time for silence. When an article in the Egyptian criminal code says that if a woman has been beaten by her husband “with good intentions” no punitive damages can be obtained, then to hell with political correctness. And what, pray tell, are “good intentions”? They are legally deemed to include any beating that is “not severe” or “directed at the face.” What all this means is that when it comes to the status of women in the Middle East, it’s not better than you think. It’s much, much worse. Even after these “revolutions,” all is more or less considered well with the world as long as women are covered up, anchored to the home, denied the simple mobility of getting into their own cars, forced to get permission from men to travel, and unable to marry without a male guardian’s blessing — or divorce either.

Not a single Arab country ranks in the top 100 in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, putting the region as a whole solidly at the planet’s rock bottom. Poor or rich, we all hate our women. Neighbors Saudi Arabia and Yemen, for instance, might be eons apart when it comes to GDP, but only four places separate them on the index, with the kingdom at 131 and Yemen coming in at 135 out of 135 countries. Morocco, often touted for its “progressive” family law (a 2005 report by Western “experts” called it “an example for Muslim countries aiming to integrate into modern society”), ranks 129; according to Morocco’s Ministry of Justice, 41,098 girls under age 18 were married there in 2010.

It’s easy to see why the lowest-ranked country is Yemen, where 55 percent of women are illiterate, 79 percent do not participate in the labor force, and just one woman serves in the 301-person parliament. Horrific news reports about 12-year-old girls dying in childbirth do little to stem the tide of child marriage there. Instead, demonstrations in support of child marriage outstrip those against it, fueled by clerical declarations that opponents of state-sanctioned pedophilia are apostates because the Prophet Mohammed, according to them, married his second wife, Aisha, when she was a child.

But at least Yemeni women can drive. It surely hasn’t ended their litany of problems, but it symbolizes freedom — and nowhere does such symbolism resonate more than in Saudi Arabia, where child marriage is also practiced and women are perpetually minors regardless of their age or education. Saudi women far outnumber their male counterparts on university campuses but are reduced to watching men far less qualified control every aspect of their lives.

Yes, Saudi Arabia, the country where a gang-rape survivor was sentenced to jail for agreeing to get into a car with an unrelated male and needed a royal pardon; Saudi Arabia, where a woman who broke the ban on driving was sentenced to 10 lashes and again needed a royal pardon; Saudi Arabia, where women still can’t vote or run in elections, yet it’s considered “progress” that a royal decree promised to enfranchise them for almost completely symbolic local elections in — wait for it — 2015. So bad is it for women in Saudi Arabia that those tiny paternalistic pats on their backs are greeted with delight as the monarch behind them, King Abdullah, is hailed as a “reformer”  — even by those who ought to know better, such as Newsweek, which in 2010 named the king one of the top 11 most respected world leaders. You want to know how bad it is? The “reformer’s” answer to the revolutions popping up across the region was to numb his people with still more government handouts — especially for the Salafi zealots from whom the Saudi royal family inhales legitimacy. King Abdullah is 87. Just wait until you see the next in line, Prince Nayef, a man straight out of the Middle Ages. His misogyny and zealotry make King Abdullah look like Susan B. Anthony.

SO WHY DO THEY HATE US? Sex, or more precisely hymens, explains much.

“Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said recently. “But they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in or what religion they claim. They want to control women.” (And yet Clinton represents an administration that openly supports many of those misogynistic despots.) Attempts to control by such regimes often stem from the suspicion that without it, a woman is just a few degrees short of sexual insatiability. Observe Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the popular cleric and longtime conservative TV host on Al Jazeera who developed a stunning penchant for the Arab Spring revolutions — once they were under way, that is — undoubtedly understanding that they would eliminate the tyrants who long tormented and oppressed both him and the Muslim Brotherhood movement from which he springs.

I could find you a host of crackpots sounding off on Woman the Insatiable Temptress, but I’m staying mainstream with Qaradawi, who commands a huge audience on and off the satellite channels. Although he says female genital mutilation (which he calls “circumcision,” a common euphemism that tries to put the practice on a par with male circumcision) is not “obligatory,” you will also find this priceless observation in one of his books: “I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world. Anyone who thinks that circumcision is the best way to protect his daughters should do it,” he wrote, adding, “The moderate opinion is in favor of practicing circumcision to reduce temptation.” So even among “moderates,” girls’ genitals are cut to ensure their desire is nipped in the bud — pun fully intended. Qaradawi has since issued a fatwa against female genital mutilation, but it comes as no surprise that when Egypt banned the practice in 2008, some Muslim Brotherhood legislators opposed the law. And some still do — including a prominent female parliamentarian, Azza al-Garf.

Yet it’s the men who can’t control themselves on the streets, where from Morocco to Yemen, sexual harassment is endemic and it’s for the men’s sake that so many women are encouraged to cover up. Cairo has a women-only subway car to protect us from wandering hands and worse; countless Saudi malls are for families only, barring single men from entry unless they produce a requisite female to accompany them.

We often hear how the Middle East’s failing economies have left many men unable to marry, and some even use that to explain rising levels of sexual harassment on the streets. In a 2008 survey by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, more than 80 percent of Egyptian women said they’d experienced sexual harassment and more than 60 percent of men admitted to harassing women. Yet we never hear how a later marriage age affects women. Do women have sex drives or not? Apparently, the Arab jury is still out on the basics of human biology.

Enter that call to prayer and the sublimation through religion that Rifaat so brilliantly introduces in her story. Just as regime-appointed clerics lull the poor across the region with promises of justice — and nubile virgins — in the next world rather than a reckoning with the corruption and nepotism of the dictator in this life, so women are silenced by a deadly combination of men who hate them while also claiming to have God firmly on their side.

I turn again to Saudi Arabia, and not just because when I encountered the country at age 15 I was traumatized into feminism — there’s no other way to describe it — but because the kingdom is unabashed in its worship of a misogynistic God and never suffers any consequences for it, thanks to its double-whammy advantage of having oil and being home to Islam’s two holiest places, Mecca and Medina.

Then — the 1980s and 1990s — as now, clerics on Saudi TV were obsessed with women and their orifices, especially what came out of them. I’ll never forget hearing that if a baby boy urinated on you, you could go ahead and pray in the same clothes, yet if a baby girl peed on you, you had to change. What on Earth in the girl’s urine made you impure? I wondered.

Hatred of women.

How much does Saudi Arabia hate women? So much so that 15 girls died in a school fire in Mecca in 2002, after “morality police” barred them from fleeing the burning building — and kept firefighters from rescuing them — because the girls were not wearing headscarves and cloaks required in public. And nothing happened. No one was put on trial. Parents were silenced. The only concession to the horror was that girls’ education was quietly taken away by then-Crown Prince Abdullah from the Salafi zealots, who have nonetheless managed to retain their vise-like grip on the kingdom’s education system writ large.

This, however, is no mere Saudi phenomenon, no hateful curiosity in the rich, isolated desert. The Islamist hatred of women burns brightly across the region — now more than ever.

In Kuwait, where for years Islamists fought women’s enfranchisement, they hounded the four women who finally made it into parliament, demanding that the two who didn’t cover their hair wear hijabs. When the Kuwaiti parliament was dissolved this past December, an Islamist parliamentarian demanded the new house — devoid of a single female legislator — discuss his proposed “decent attire” law.

In Tunisia, long considered the closest thing to a beacon of tolerance in the region, women took a deep breath last fall after the Islamist Ennahda party won the largest share of votes in the country’s Constituent Assembly. Party leaders vowed to respect Tunisia’s 1956 Personal Status Code, which declared “the principle of equality between men and women” as citizens and banned polygamy. But female university professors and students have complained since then of assaults and intimidation by Islamists for not wearing hijabs, while many women’s rights activists wonder how talk of Islamic law will affect the actual law they will live under in post-revolution Tunisia.

In Libya, the first thing the head of the interim government, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, promised to do was to lift the late Libyan tyrant’s restrictions on polygamy. Lest you think of Muammar al-Qaddafi as a feminist of any kind, remember that under his rule girls and women who survived sexual assaults or were suspected of “moral crimes” were dumped into “social rehabilitation centers,” effective prisons from which they could not leave unless a man agreed to marry them or their families took them back.

Then there’s Egypt, where less than a month after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, the military junta that replaced him, ostensibly to “protect the revolution,” inadvertently reminded us of the two revolutions we women need. After it cleared Tahrir Square of protesters, the military detained dozens of male and female activists. Tyrants oppress, beat, and torture all. We know. But these officers reserved “virginity tests” for female activists: rape disguised as a medical doctor inserting his fingers into their vaginal opening in search of hymens. (The doctor was sued and eventually acquitted in March.)

What hope can there be for women in the new Egyptian parliament, dominated as it is by men stuck in the seventh century? A quarter of those parliamentary seats are now held by Salafis, who believe that mimicking the original ways of the Prophet Mohammed is an appropriate prescription for modern life. Last fall, when fielding female candidates, Egypt’s Salafi Nour Party ran a flower in place of each woman’s face. Women are not to be seen or heard — even their voices are a temptation — so there they are in the Egyptian parliament, covered from head to toe in black and never uttering a word.

And we’re in the middle of a revolution in Egypt! It’s a revolution in which women have died, been beaten, shot at, and sexually assaulted fighting alongside men to rid our country of that uppercase Patriarch — Mubarak — yet so many lowercase patriarchs still oppress us. The Muslim Brotherhood, with almost half the total seats in our new revolutionary parliament, does not believe women (or Christians for that matter) can be president. The woman who heads the “women’s committee” of the Brotherhood’s political party said recently that women should not march or protest because it’s more “dignified” to let their husbands and brothers demonstrate for them.

The hatred of women goes deep in Egyptian society. Those of us who have marched and protested have had to navigate a minefield of sexual assaults by both the regime and its lackeys, and, sadly, at times by our fellow revolutionaries. On the November day I was sexually assaulted on Mohamed Mahmoud Street near Tahrir Square, by at least four Egyptian riot police, I was first groped by a man in the square itself. While we are eager to expose assaults by the regime, when we’re violated by our fellow civilians we immediately assume they’re agents of the regime or thugs because we don’t want to taint the revolution.


First we stop pretending. Call out the hate for what it is. Resist cultural relativism and know that even in countries undergoing revolutions and uprisings, women will remain the cheapest bargaining chips. You — the outside world — will be told that it’s our “culture” and “religion” to do X, Y, or Z to women. Understand that whoever deemed it as such was never a woman. The Arab uprisings may have been sparked by an Arab man — Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire in desperation — but they will be finished by Arab women.

Amina Filali — the 16-year-old Moroccan girl who drank poison after she was forced to marry, and beaten by, her rapist — is our Bouazizi. Salwa el-Husseini, the first Egyptian woman to speak out against the “virginity tests“; Samira Ibrahim, the first one to sue; and Rasha Abdel Rahman, who testified alongside her — they are our Bouazizis. We must not wait for them to die to become so. Manal al-Sharif, who spent nine days in jail for breaking her country’s ban on women driving, is Saudi Arabia’s Bouazizi. She is a one-woman revolutionary force who pushes against an ocean of misogyny.


Our political revolutions will not succeed unless they are accompanied by revolutions of thought — social, sexual, and cultural revolutions that topple the Mubaraks in our minds as well as our bedrooms.

“Do you know why they subjected us to virginity tests?” Ibrahim asked me soon after we’d spent hours marching together to mark International Women’s Day in Cairo on March 8. “They want to silence us; they want to chase women back home. But we’re not going anywhere.”

We are more than our headscarves and our hymens. Listen to those of us fighting. Amplify the voices of the region and poke the hatred in its eye. There was a time when being an Islamist was the most vulnerable political position in Egypt and Tunisia. Understand that now it very well might be Woman. As it always has been.

NE Afghanistan, Where Afghan and Pakistani Taliban Stage Mass Assaults Together In Govt. Vacuum

Four Afghan police dead, 16 seized in Taliban attack


Armed Afghan police climb onto the back of a vehicle after gunmen launched multiple attacks in Kabul April 15, 2012. – File Photo by Reuters

KABUL: Dozens of Taliban rebels stormed police posts in the remote northeastern Afghan province of Badakhshan overnight, killing four officers and capturing at least 16 others, an official said on Thursday.

Two policemen were injured and three others were missing after an intense battle in the mountainous province’s Wardaj district, on a lawless pass to neighbouring Pakistan, deputy provincial governor, Shamsul Rahman Shams said.

“A big number of the Taliban carried out the attacks. The police were overpowered,” he told AFP from the provincial capital town of Faizabad.

“Sixteen police were captured by the Taliban and taken away. Three others are also missing but we don’t know what has happened to them,” Shams said.

The rebels seized two police trucks and a quantity of ammunition.

Afghanistan’s security forces, including about 170,000 police, are being trained, equipped and largely paid by a US-led Nato military coalition that has about 130,000 troops fighting the Taliban.

Mostly American, the force is scheduled to withdraw by the end of 2014 and hand over all security responsibilities to local forces. When the troops leave Afghanistan will have a total police and army force of 352,000.

Compared to their army counterparts, Afghan police are undertrained and underequipped and suffer more casualties in Taliban attacks.

Russia’s Strategy For Reclaiming What Was Lost

Russia’s Strategy

George Friedman


The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 reversed a process that had been under way since the Russian Empire’s emergence in the 17th century. It was ultimately to incorporate four general elements: Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Caucasus and Siberia. The St. Petersburg-Moscow axis was its core, and Russia, Belorussia and Ukraine were its center of gravity. The borders were always dynamic, mostly expanding but periodically contracting as the international situation warranted. At its farthest extent, from 1945 to 1989, it reached central Germany, dominating the lands it seized in World War II. The Russian Empire was never at peace. As with many empires, there were always parts of it putting up (sometimes violent) resistance and parts that bordering powers coveted — as well as parts of other nations that Russia coveted.

The Russian Empire subverted the assumption that political and military power requires a strong economy: It was never prosperous, but it was frequently powerful. The Russians defeated Napoleon and Hitler and confronted the far wealthier Americans for more than four decades in the Cold War, in spite of having a less developed or less advanced economy. Its economic weakness certainly did undermine its military power at times, but to understand Russia, it is important to begin by understanding that the relationship between military and economic power is not a simple one.

Economy and Security

There are many reasons for Russia’s economic dysfunction, but the first explanation, if not the full explanation, is geography and transportation. The Russians and Ukrainians have some of the finest farmland in the world, comparable to that of the American Midwest. The difference is transportation, the ability to move the harvest to the rest of the empire and its far away population centers. Where the United States has the Mississippi-Missouri-Ohio river system that integrates the area between the Rockies and the Appalachians, Russia’s rivers do not provide an integrated highway to Russia, and given distances and lack of alternative modes of transport, Russian railways were never able to sustain consistent, bulk agricultural transport.

This is not to say that there wasn’t integration in the empire’s economy and that this didn’t serve as a factor binding it together. It is to say that the lack of economic integration, and weakness in agricultural transport in particular, dramatically limited prosperity in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. At the same time, the relative underdevelopment of the empire and union made it impossible for them to successfully compete with Western Europe. Therefore, there was an economic motivation within the constituent parts of the empire and the union to integrate with each other. There could be synergies on a lower level of development among these nations.

Economics was one factor that bound the Russian Empire and Soviet Union together. Another was the military and security apparatus. The Russian security apparatus in particular played a significant role in holding first the empire and then the union together; in many ways, it was the most modern and efficient institution they had. Whatever temptations the constituent republics might have had to leave the empire or union, these were systematically repressed by internal security forces detecting and destroying opposition to the center. It could be put this way: The army created the empire. Its alignment of economic interests was the weak force holding it together, and the security apparatus was the strong force. If the empire and union were to survive, they would need economic relations ordered in such a way that some regions were put at a disadvantage, others at an advantage. That could happen only if the state were powerful enough to impose this reality. Since the state itself was limited in most dimensions, the security apparatus substituted for it. When the security apparatus failed, as it did at the end of World War I or in 1989-1991, the regime could not survive. When it did succeed, it held it all together.

In the Russian Empire, the economic force and the security force were supplemented by an overarching ideology: that of the Russian Orthodox Church, which provided a rationale for the system. The state security apparatus worked with the church and against dissident elements in other religions in the empire. In the Soviet Union, the religious ideology was supplemented with the secular ideology of Marxism-Leninism. The Soviet Union used its security apparatus to attempt a transformation of the economy and to crush opposition to the high cost of this transformation. In some sense, Marxism-Leninism was a more efficient ideology, since Russian Orthodoxy created religious differentials while Marxism-Leninism was hostile to all religions and at least theoretically indifferent to the many ethnicities and nations.

The fall of the Soviet Union really began with a crisis in the economy that created a crisis in the security force, the KGB. It was Yuri Andropov, the head of the KGB, who first began to understand the degree to which the Soviet Union’s economy was failing under the growing corruption of the Brezhnev years and the cost of defense spending. The KGB understood two things. The first was that Russia had to restructure (Perestroika) or collapse. The second was that the traditional insularity of the Soviet Union had to be shifted and the Soviets had to open themselves to Western technology and methods (Glasnost). Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was a reformer, but he was a communist trying to reform the system to save the party. He was proceeding from the KGB model. His and Andropov’s gamble was that the Soviet Union could survive and open to the West without collapsing and that it could trade geopolitical interests, such as domination of Eastern Europe, for economic relations without shattering the Soviet Union. They lost the bet.

The Soviet Collapse

The 1990s was a catastrophic period for the former Soviet Union. Except for a few regions, the collapse of the Soviet state and the security apparatus led to chaos, and privatization turned into theft. Not surprisingly, the most sophisticated and well-organized portion of the Soviet apparatus, the KGB, played a major role in the kleptocracy and retained, more than other institutions, its institutional identity. Over time, its control over the economy revived informally, until one of its representatives, Vladimir Putin, emerged as the leader of the state.

Putin developed three principles. The first was that the security system was the heart of the state. The second was that Moscow was the heart of Russia. The third was that Russia was the heart of the former Soviet Union. These principles were not suddenly imposed. The power of the KGB, renamed the FSB and SVR, slowly moved from a system of informal domination through kleptocracy to a more systematic domination of the state apparatus by the security services, reinstituting the old model. Putin took control of regional governments by appointing governors and controlling industry outside of Moscow. Most important, he cautiously moved Russia back to first among equals in the former Soviet Union.

Putin came to power on the heels of the Kosovo war. Russia had insisted that the West not go to war with Serbia, what was left of the former Yugoslavia. Russia was ignored, and its lack of influence left President Boris Yeltsin humiliated. But it was the Orange Revolution in Ukraine that convinced Putin that the United States intended to break Russia if someone like Yeltsin led it. Ukraine is economically and geographically essential to Russian national security, and Putin saw the attempt to create a pro-Western government that wanted to join NATO as Washington, using CIA-funded nongovernmental organizations pushing for regime change, attempted to permanently weaken Russia. Once the Orange Revolution succeeded, Putin moved to rectify the situation.

The first step was to make it clear that Russia had regained a substantial part of its power and was willing to use it. The second step was to demonstrate that American guarantees were worthless. The Russo-Georgian War of 2008 achieved both ends. The Russians had carried out an offensive operation and the Americans, bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, could not respond. The lesson was not only for Georgia (which, similar to Ukraine, had also sought NATO membership). It was also for Ukraine and all other countries in the former Soviet Union, demonstrating that Russia was again going to be the heart of Eurasia. Indeed, one of Putin’s latest projects is the Eurasian Union, tying together Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, a large economic and military part of the former Soviet Union. Add to this Ukraine and the former Soviet Union emerges even more.

Remaking the Union

For Russia, the recreation of a union is a strategic necessity. As Putin put it, the fall of the Soviet Union was a geopolitical catastrophe. Russia needs the economic integration, particularly given the new economic strategy of post-Soviet Russia, which is the export of raw materials, particularly energy. Aligning with states such as Kazakhstan in energy and Ukraine in grain provides Moscow with leverage in the rest of the world, particularly in Europe. As important, it provides strategic depth. The rest of the world knows that an invasion of Russia is inconceivable. The Russians can conceive of it. They remember that Germany in 1932 was crippled. By 1938 it was overwhelmingly powerful. Six years is not very long, and while such an evolution is unlikely now, from the Russian point of view, it must be taken seriously in the long run — planning for the worst and hoping for the best.

Therefore, the heart of Russian strategy, after resurrecting state power in Russia, is to create a system of relationships within the former Soviet Union that will provide economic alignment and strategic depth but not give Russia an unsustainable obligation to underwrite the other nations’ domestic policies. Unlike the Russian Empire or Soviet Union, Putin’s strategy is to take advantage of relationships on a roughly mutual basis without undertaking responsibility for the other nations.

In achieving this goal, the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were a godsend. Until 9/11, the United States had been deeply involved in peeling off parts of the former Soviet Union such as the Baltics and integrating them into Western systems. With 9/11, the United States became obsessed with the jihadist wars, giving Russia a window of opportunity to stabilize itself and to increase its regional power.

As the United States extracts itself from Afghanistan, Russia has to be concerned that Washington will supplement its focus on China with a renewed focus on Russia. The possible end of these conflicts is not in Russia’s interest. Therefore, one piece of Russian external strategy is to increase the likelihood of prolonged U.S. obsession with Iran. Currently, for example, Russia and Iran are the only major countries supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Russia wants to see a pro-Iranian Syria — not because it is in Moscow’s long-term interests but because, in the short run, anything that absorbs the United States will relieve possible pressure on Russia and give more time for reordering the former Soviet Union.

The crisis in Europe is similarly beneficial to Russia. The unease that Germany has with the European Union has not yet matured into a break, and it may never. However, Germany’s unease means that it is looking for other partners, in part to ease the strain on Germany and in part to create options. Germany depends on Russian energy exports, and while that might decrease in coming years, Russia is dealing with the immediate future. Germany is looking for other potential economic partners and, most important at a time when Europe is undergoing extreme strain, Germany does not want to get caught in an American attempt to redraw Russian borders. The ballistic missile defense system is not significant, in the sense that it does not threaten Russia, but the U.S. presence in the region is worrisome to Moscow. For Russia, recruiting Germany to the view that the United States is a destabilizing force would be a tremendous achievement.

Other issues are side issues. China and Russia have issues, but China cannot pose a significant threat to core Russian interests unless it chooses to invade maritime Russia, which it won’t. There are economic and political issues, of course, but China is not at the heart of Russia’s strategic concerns.

For Russia, the overwhelming strategic concern is dominating the former Soviet Union without becoming its patron. Ukraine is the key missing element, and a long, complex political and economic game is under way. The second game is in Central Asia, where Russia is systematically asserting its strength. The third is in the Baltics, where it has not yet made a move. And there is the endless conflict in the northern Caucasus that always opens the door for reasserting Russian power in the south. Russia’s foreign policy is built around the need to buy time for it to complete its evolution.

To do this, the Russians must keep the United States distracted, and the Russian strategy in the Middle East serves that purpose. The second part is to secure the West by drawing Germany into a mutually beneficial economic relationship while not generating major resistance in Poland or an American presence there. Whether this can be achieved depends as much on Iran as it does on Russia.

Russia has come far from where Yeltsin took it. The security forces are again the heart of the state. Moscow dominates Russia. Russia is moving to dominate the former Soviet Union. Its main adversary, the United States, is distracted, and Europe is weak and divided. Of course, Russia is economically dysfunctional, but that has been the case for centuries and does not mean it will always be weak. For the moment, Russia is content to be strong in what it calls the near abroad, or the former Soviet Union. Having come this far, it is not trying to solve insoluble problems.

That Huge Attack In Kabul Last Week Can All Be Blamed On One Simple Thing

That Huge Attack In Kabul Last Week Can All Be Blamed On One Simple Thing

Tom A. Peter


Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) has been sharply criticized for failing to thwart last week’s series of coordinated attacks in the capital and given the Taliban an effective talking point.

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai has placed the most weight for the attack intelligence failures on NATO but hasn’t absolved NDS of fault, “I’m not blaming NATO for this. I’m simply asking a question as to the efficiency of our intelligence gathering systems, whether these systems are working all right,” he said in an interview with CNN.

The president’s question is one shared by many Afghans. Though the NDS is relatively well-regarded as an intelligence gathering body, many complain that nepotism and ethnic favoritism – issues that affect most Afghan government offices – could dangerously hobble the capability of the Afghan intelligence agency.

“I would say that there are a lot of people who came into the NDS through political ties. I would also say that there are people not just from one tribe, but from many tribes related to one group,” says Gen. Nazifa Zaki, a member of parliament from Kabul who sits on the internal security commission. “There are professional people who have worked for many years in intelligence, but they are now sidelined.”

How well do you know Afghanistan? Take our quiz.

In a nation that is a patchwork of ethnic groups, many with their own languages, about 70 percent of those at NDS hail from Panjshir or have ties with the Northern Alliance, a group that once opposed the Taliban, say NDS officials.

Additionally, in a recent editorial for the BBC’s Persian language service Amrullah Saleh, a former NDS director wrote that 90 percent of the leadership for Afghanistan’s security forces, which includes NDS, attained their positions through political appointments.

The problem of having an ethnically homogeneous spy organization comes into sharp relief against insurgent groups like the Taliban or Haqqani Network, which are almost exclusively Pashtun organizations and have only a handful of supporters from different ethnic groups. Prior to the most recent conflict, Pashtuns have been historic rivals of Panjshiris and the other ethnic groups that make up the Northern Alliance.

Just as the CIA has struggled to make inroads in the Middle East with a shortage of Arab-Americans and Arabic speakers – in 2009, only 22 percent of CIA personnel were not white and just 13 percent were proficient in a language other than English – NDS may face a similar problem in Afghanistan.

Despite a violent history between rival ethnic groups during Afghanistan’s civil war, the past 10 years have seen relative peace between ethnic groups here. Still, while communities mix regularly, barriers do exist.

A common complaint among Pashtuns is that other ethnic groups often fail to differentiate between Pasthuns belonging to the Taliban and the vast majority of Pashtuns who have no ties to the group.

“When they send Panjshiris to Pashtun areas the can’t do anything. They don’t know anything about the South or the East. They don’t know how Pashtuns talk or move. If you need information about a Pashtun, you should have a Pashtun to get that information. This is the problem,” says one NDS officer who is not authorized to speak with the media.

The NDS officer, himself a Pashtun, complained that several years ago he was approached by about 10 men who an insurgent organization had approached to recruit as suicide bombers. The men did not want to become bombers, but they were willing to go to the training camp and collect information for NDS. When he told his superiors, he says they ignored the lead.

Whether the incident was a product of ineffective leadership or Pashtun marginalization, incidents like these do not build confidence in the reputation for the NDS, when it comes to impartiality. Those inside the NDS say that having the organization dominated so heavily by Panjshiris, North Alliance supporters, and political appointees has created an environment where talent and professionalism are seldom rewarded.

“In the NDS or the military it should be really difficult to get a promotion, you shouldn’t get it overnight. You must work hard. But in the NDS someone will join today and tomorrow he will be a major. They just make fake papers and everything. Even if the guy is illiterate, he will become a major in the NDS,” says a former NDS officer who asked to be referred to as Gul Kaka because he is not authorized to speak with the media. “If they become higher ranking, they get more power, money, cars, and everything. They are misusing this.”

NDS officials say that the leadership is aware of the problems and is taking steps to create a more diverse staff. Even those who have voiced complaints, say that there are signs of progress, but add that it will take time.

Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.

Nabucco Is Toast

Hungary’s MOL Won’t Fund Nabucco Pipeline



BUDAPEST—Plans for the massive Nabucco pipeline that would lessen European dependence on Russia were dealt a blow Tuesday when Hungarian oil and gas company MOL Nyrt Tuesday announced that it won’t finance the project in 2012.

A MOL statement released Tuesday afternoon said the company had "continuously" raised doubts about Nabucco. Given that these concerns "still exist," MOL "does not consider the further financing of the Nabucco International Co. sustainable and therefore it did not approve the 2012 annual budget of NIC."

While the EU continues to endorse Nabucco, the MOL statement marks the latest major blow to an EU priority that has been hit by high costs and uncertain gas supplies.

A spokesman for the Nabucco coalition said late Tuesday that the group had no comment on the latest MOL statement. (A Nabucco statement earlier Tuesday said the coalition had not been informed of a change in the status of MOL’s participation; MOL earlier Tuesday said it had major concerns about Nabucco, but didn’t mention a decision not to fund the project.)

MOL is now the second major shareholder to publicly reconsider its role in the Nabucco consortium, after Germany’s RWE AG‘s chief executive said earlier this year that it could scrap its plans for the long-discussed pipeline, which aims to lessen EU dependency on Russian gas.

MOL and RWE are two of the main shareholders in the consortium and their failure to support the project would put in serious doubt its feasibility. Austria’s OMV AG and three other companies are also part of Nabucco.

The company’s statement follows remarks by Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban Monday that MOL is leaving the project. A Nabucco statement said the consortium has no indication of a change in MOL’s status.

Nabucco was originally designed as a 3,300 kilometer-long pipeline project to bring Caspian gas to Austria across Turkey and most of central Europe with the aim of easing the region’s dependence on Russian gas imports by opening up a "corridor" from Central Asia to the European Union.

But uncertainty about the amount of gas effectively available in the region for EU export by the end of the decade has dampened those expectations and prompted the consortium to scale down the project to roughly half its original size, ceding ground to competing projects.

The European Commission, which has executive powers in the EU, has strongly supported Nabucco as the best plan for such a corridor, but has recently been open to accepting other projects, saying the priority is to get Caspian gas to Europe, rather than the specific infrastructure to do that.

Marlene Holzner, a spokeswoman for European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, said Tuesday the commission has no indication about MOL dropping out of Nabucco, and didn’t comment directly on MOL’s statement.

Azerbaijan and BP PLC –which has a leading role in the consortium developing the Azeri field which would provide the gas for the EU– are working on two other, possibly complementary, pipelines that are in direct competition with Nabucco as they would follow a similar route.

The TANAP line would carry the gas across Turkey, while the South East Europe Pipeline would then take proceed through Central Europe, possibly all the way to one of Europe’s biggest gas hubs in Austria. The capacity of these alternative lines is roughly half that of Nabucco’s.

Nabucco’s prospects have also been challenged by the Russian-led South Stream pipeline, whose partners include European giants like Germany’s BASF and France’sÉlectricité de France . South Stream would not rely on the same Azeri gas, but would provide the commodity to the same end-markets in central Europe.

Write to Alessandro Torello at alessandro.torello@dowjones.com

Tyrants provide rebels with cause

Tyrants provide rebels with cause

Revolutions are born of unjust conditions.


The Columbia Daily Tribune

The Arab world, from North Africa to the Persian Gulf, is in a period of political upheaval. Large-scale, anti-regime violence defines Syria. Iran was in political turmoil in 2009. Myanmar is in domestic ferment. Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia is under continual, low-level pressure from pro-democracy demonstrators. Central Asia is quiet, but its Brezhnevite strongmen are more nervous than ever of the fever of rebellion. China’s rulers are equally insecure.

The world is in a state that potentially alters geopolitics but that geopoliticians have no direct answer for: Why do men revolt? The best answer comes not from a work of political science but from one of philosophy: "The Rebel," published in 1951 by the French Nobel laureate Albert Camus. "Rebellion is born of the spectacle of irrationality, confronted with an unjust and incomprehensible condition," Camus wrote. "The very moment the slave refuses to accept the humiliating orders of his master, he simultaneously rejects the condition of slavery." In the early part of the Cold War, Camus had his eye on the assault on human dignity inflicted by Soviet communism, a system he intuited was impermanent. This won him the rebuke of Jean-Paul Sartre, that icon of the French intellectual left who worshipped Moscow. But in the way of a great classic, "The Rebel" has held up well for the more ambiguous circumstances of the present.

"The rebel’s aim is to defend what he is," Camus intoned: that is, to defend the fact he is not a slave. Truly, the regimes toppled in Tunisia and Egypt, decayed and reptilian, characterized by obscene cults of personality with little promise of political and economic reform, robbed people of their dignity and consequently made them feel like slaves. Every giant poster of former dictators Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak told people on the street that they were nothing. And the upshot was revolt. Syria now seethes with such resentment. Because the Chinese dictatorship has wrought dramatic economic development and consequent personal freedoms, China might follow a different path, with uprisings more the result of unsatisfied, rising expectations rather than of abject humiliation — and of the acute awareness of unfulfilled aspirations made possible by electronic media.

Camus follows with two arresting insights. The first is that rebellions happen when sacred traditions are discarded, for tradition provides "eternal answers and commentaries," offering solace in times of bad government and thus providing breathing space for the unpopular rulers themselves. Those secular Arab dictatorships were clearly without tradition and were kept going over the decades by a combination of repression and inertia. But when conditions became ripe for revolt, they were defenseless, in the sense they lacked an aura of traditional legitimacy in the eyes of the rebels.

Camus is not saying tyrants have no defenders among the population, only that among those who do choose to revolt, fear is absent because rebels, as Camus defines them, are revolting against a slavery imposed by those who have not, in the rebels’ eyes, earned their positions.

The collapse of the Soviet empire in Europe and the pressure upon alienating, traditionless tyrannies in the Middle East indicate that Camus is describing an eternal condition. In "The Castle" (1926), Franz Kafka asks: What will take the place of traditional authority? That question has been with the Middle East ever since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, when sheikhs and tribes still held considerable sway, and it has been with Russia since the fall of the Romanov dynasty in 1917. It is a question that the Bolshevik Revolution never really answered.

Kafka’s answer is that whereas illegitimate authority defends only the "remote," his rebel protagonist is defending "himself" — the individual, in other words. Camus would surely agree.

Camus’ second arresting insight is: "The most elementary form of rebellion … expresses an aspiration for order" because when the authorities do not respect the individual, disorder will reign — as tyranny becomes a masquerade for anarchy.

This is very different from the yearning for a "new human order" that the Hungarian-born intellectual Arthur Koestler discerned in Europe between the two World Wars that served as a prelude to fascism. Still, Camus intimates that by demanding order, he knows he is on extremely dangerous ground.

"When the throne of God is overturned, the rebel realizes that it is now his own responsibility to create the justice, order and unity that he sought in vain within his own condition." In other words, the toppling of kings and tyrants in and of itself does not always morally justify the rebel. To do that, the rebel must replace the old order with a new one that is more just, or at least more benign.

This is Camus’ most profound critique of communism: By declaring God dead, it was incumbent upon the new ideology to provide its own moral universe, which it signally failed to do. The Stalinist cult of personality was a demonstration of power, not of morality. Even China, with the cult of Mao Zedong dramatically weakened, has seen religion grow exponentially because of a yearning for morality.

Ideology leads to murder, Camus concludes, reviewing the history of the 20th century. Thus, "all of us, among the ruins, are preparing a renaissance beyond the limits of nihilism." Nihilism, a characteristic of both Nazism and communism, is a rejection of all principles in the belief that life is meaningless.

Camus’ philosophy challenges all those in revolt today from Syria to Russia and beyond. It is often not enough to topple a system; one needs a credible plan and path forward to erect a better regime.

Moreover, he writes, rebellion requires limits so as not to restrict the freedom of those not among rebel ranks. This is where Camus’ philosophy is aligned with traditional statesmanship and in opposition to other intellectuals whose celebration of revolt was narcissistic and therefore not linked to the restitution of law and order.

The geopolitical universe we inhabit now is one governed by Camus’ philosophy. Over the next decade, regimes in pivot states such as Syria, Iran, Russia, Myanmar and China likely will be challenged by their own people in ways that affect the global power system. The internal dynamics of these changes will be governed by the very order and discipline of those in revolt. If the rebels in Syria offer little but factional infighting that would provide an opening for further sectarian struggles, then President Bashar Assad might hold onto power for now.

If unrest elsewhere is similarly scattershot and lacking the virtue of a unifying idea, then old regimes might soldier on.

The fact is that tyrannies do not govern in a vacuum. They often do so from a base of at least some popular support. This is a truth alien to the American experience but not to Camus’. His very definition of a true rebel — someone possessing the wish to establish justice and virtue — fits well with the notion that the overthrow of tyranny must be earned by offering something better.

Camus’ nightmare is that rebellion can lead to even worse tyrannies than the ones we have. But, as he says, ever since the mythical Prometheus rebelled against Zeus in the deserts of Scythia, revolt has been a distinguishing characteristic of man. One task of geopolitics is to ascertain how close the various rebellions around the world come to Camus’ standard of virtue, for that will be a sign of how close they are to succeeding.

Robert D. Kaplan is a national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly. This essay appeared April 18 at Stratford.com.


[When China actually creates a New Silk Road, as opposed to Hillary’s pipedream, will Team Obama just give-up on the idea or keep pushing for it?]


The prospect of an unparalleled Eurasian economic boom has been further solidified following recent talks between Turkish and Chinese leaders. The first steps are being constructed with a number of little-publicized rail links envisioned to connect China and parts of Western Europe. It is increasingly clear to all nations concerned, especially China and Russia, that their natural tendency to develop these markets faces only one major hurdle: NATO and the US Pentagon’s Full Spectrum Dominance obsession. According to Engdahl, rail infrastructure is a major geopolitical tool for obviating that obstacle.

F. William Engdahl

China and Turkey are in discussions to build a new high-speed railway link across Turkey. If completed it would be the country’s largest railway project ever, even including the pre-World War I Berlin-Baghdad Railway link. The project was perhaps the most important agenda item, far more so than Syria during talks in Beijing between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Chinese leadership in early April.

The Marmaray Project includes the world’s deepest immersed tube tunnel. This is a section of tunnel being floated into position for the Oresund link in Denmark – similar processes are being used in Istanbul.  (source)


The proposed rail link would run from Kars on the easternmost border with Armenia, through the Turkish interior on to Istanbul where it would connect to the Marmaray rail tunnel now under construction that runs under the Bosphorus strait. Then it would continue to Edirne near the border to Greece and Bulgaria in the European Union. It will cost an estimated $35 billion. The realization of the Turkish link would complete a Chinese Trans-Eurasian Rail Bridge project that would bring freight from China to Spain and England. [1]

The Kars-Edirne line would reduce travel time across Turkey by two-thirds from 36 hours down to 12. Under an agreement signed between China and Turkey in October 2010, China has agreed to extend loans of $30 billion for the planned rail network. [2]  In addition a Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway connecting Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku to Kars is under construction, which greatly increases the strategic importance of the Edirne-Kars line. For China it would put a critical new link in its railway infrastructure across Eurasia to markets in Europe and beyond.

Erdogan’s visit to Beijing was significant for other reasons. It was the first such high level trip of a Turkish Prime Minister to China since 1985. The fact that Erdogan was also granted a high-level meeting with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, the man slated to be next Chinese President, and was granted an extraordinary visit to China’s oil-rich Xinjiang Province also shows the high priority China is placing on its relations with Turkey, a key emerging strategic force in the Middle East.

Xinjiang is a highly sensitive part of China as it hosts some 9 million ethnic Uyghurs who share a Turkic heritage with Turkey as well as nominal adherence to the Turkish Sunni branch of Islam. In July 2009 the US government, acting through the National Endowment for Democracy, the regime-change NGO it finances, backed a major Uyghur uprising in which many Han Chinese shop owners were killed or injured. Washington in turn blamed the riots on Beijing as part of a strategy of escalating pressure on China. [3] During Uyghur riots in Xinjiang in 2009, Erdogan accused Beijing of “genocide” and attacked the Chinese on human rights, a dicey issue for Turkey given their Kurd ethnic problems. Clearly economic priorities from both sides have now changed the political calculus.

Building the world’s greatest market

With the end of the Cold War in 1990 the vast under-developed land space of Eurasia became open again. This space contains some forty percent of total land in the world, much of it prime unspoiled agriculture land; it contains three-fourth of the entire world population, an asset of incalculable worth. It consists of some eighty eight of the world’s countries and three-fourths of known world energy resources as well as every mineral known needed for industrialization. North America as an economic potential, rich as she is, pales by comparison.

The Turkish-China railway discussion is but one part of a vast Chinese strategy to weave a network of inland rail connections across the Eurasian Continent. The aim is to literally create the world’s greatest new economic space and in turn a huge new market for not just China but all Eurasian countries, the Middle East and Western Europe. Direct rail service is faster and cheaper than either ships or trucks, and much cheaper than airplanes. For manufactured Chinese or other Eurasian products the rail land bridge links are creating vast new economic trading activity all along the rail line.

Two factors have made this prospect realizable for the first time since the Second World War. First the collapse of the Soviet Union has opened up the land space of Eurasia in entirely new ways as has the opening of China to Russia and its Eurasian neighbors, overcoming decades of mistrust. This is being met by the eastward expansion of the European Union to the countries of the former Warsaw Pact.

The demand for faster rail transport over the vast Eurasian distances is clear. China’s container port activity and that of its European and North American destinations is reaching a saturation point as volumes of container traffic explode at double-digit rates. Singapore recently displaced Rotterdam as the world’s largest port in volume terms. The growth rate for container port throughput in China in 2006, before outbreak of the world financial crisis was some 25% annually. In 2007 Chinese ports accounted for some 28 per cent of world container port throughput. [4] However there is another aspect to the Chinese and, to an extent, the Russian land bridge strategies. By moving trade flows over land, it is more secure in the face of escalating military tensions between the nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, especially China and Russia, and NATO. Sea transport must flow through highly vulnerable narrow passageways or chokepoints such as the Malaysian Straits of Malacca.

The Turkish Kars-Edirne railway would form an integral part of an entire web of Chinese-initiated rail corridors across the Eurasian landmass. Following the example of how rail infrastructure transformed the economic space of Europe and later of America during the late 19th Century, the Chinese government, which today stands as the world’s most efficient railroad constructor, has quietly been extending its rail links into Central Asia and beyond for several years. They have proceeded in segments, one reason the vast ambition of their grand rail infrastructure has drawn so little attention to date in the West outside the shipping industry.

China builds Second Eurasian Land Bridge

By 2011 China had completed a Second Eurasian Land Bridge running from China’s port of Lianyungang on the East China Sea through to Kazakhstan’s Druzhba and on to Central Asia, West Asia and Europe to various European destinations and finally to Rotterdam Port of Holland on the Atlantic coast.

The Second Eurasian Land Bridge is a new railway connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic that was completed by China to Druzhba in Kazakhstan. This newest Eurasia land bridge extends west in China through six provinces—Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan, Shaanxi, Gansu, and Xinjiang autonomous region, which neighbors respectively with Shandong Province, Shanxi Province, Hubei Province, Sichuan Province, Qinghai Province, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Inner Mongolia. That covers about 360,000 square kilometers, some 37% of the total land space of China. About 400 million people live in the areas, which accounts for 30% of the total population of the country. Outside of China, the land bridge covers over 40 countries and regions in both Asia and Europe, and is particularly important for the countries in Central and West Asia that don’t have sea outlets.

In 2011 China’s Vice Premier Wang Qishan announced plans to build a new high-speed railway link within Kazakhstan, linking the cities of Astana and Almaty, to be ready in 2015.  The Astana-Almaty line, with a total length of 1050 kilometers, employing China’s advanced rail-building technology, will allow high-speed trains to run at a speed of 350 kilometers per hour.

DB Schenker Rail Automotive is now transporting auto parts from Leipzig to Shenyang in northeastern China for BMW. Trains loaded with parts and components depart from DB Schenker’s Leipzig trans-shipment terminal in a three-week, 11,000 km journey to BMW’s Shenyang plant in the Liaoning province, where components are used in the assembly of BMW vehicles. Beginning in late November 2011, trains bound for Shenyang departed Leipzig once each day. “With a transit time of 23 days, the direct trains are twice as fast as maritime transport, followed by over-the-road transport to the Chinese hinterland,” says Dr. Karl-Friedrich Rausch, member of the management board for DB Mobility Logistics’ Transportation and Logistics division. The route reaches China via Poland, Belarus, and Russia. Containers have to be transferred by crane to different gauges twice—first to Russian broad gauge at the Poland-Belarus border, then back to standard gauge at the Russia-China border in Manzhouli. [5]

In May 2011 a daily direct rail freight service was launched between the Port of Antwerp, Europe’s second-largest port, and Chongqing, the industrial hub in China’s southwest. That greatly speeded rail freight transport across Eurasia to Europe. Compared to the 36 days for maritime transport from east China’s ports to west Europe, the Antwerp-Chongqing Rail Freight service now takes 20 to 25 days, and the aim is to cut that to 15 to 20 days. Westbound cargo includes automotive and technological goods, eastbound shipments are mostly chemicals. The project was a major priority for the Antwerp Port and the Belgian government in cooperation with China and other partners. The service is run by Swiss inter-modal logistics provider Hupac, their Russian partner Russkaya Troyka and Eurasia Good Transport over a distance of more than 10,000km, starting from Port of Antwerp through to Germany and Poland, and further to Ukraine, Russia and Mongolia before reaching Chongqing in China. [6]

The Second Eurasian Land Bridge runs 10,900 kilometers in length, with some 4100 kilometers of that in China. Within China the line runs parallel to one of the ancient routes of the Silk Road. The rail line continues across China into Druzhba where it links with the broader gauge rail lines of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is the largest inland country in the world. As Chinese rail and highways have expanded west, trade between Kazakhstan and China has been booming. From January to October 2008, goods passing through the Khorgos port between the two nations reached 880,000 tons – over 250% growth compared with the same period a year before. Trade between China and Kazakhstan is expected to grow 3 to 5 fold by 2013. As of 2008, only about 1% of the goods shipped from Asia to Europe were delivered by overland routes, meaning the room for expansion is considerable. [7]

From Kazakhstan the lines go on via Russia and Belarus over Poland to the markets of the European Union.

Another line goes to Tashkent in Uzbekistan, Central Asia’s largest city of some two millions. Another line goes west to Turkmenistan’s capital Asgabat and to the border of Iran. [8]  With some additional investment, these links, now tied to the vast expanse and markets of China could open new economic possibilities in much-neglected regions of Central Asia. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) could provide a well-suited vehicle for coordination of a broad Eurasian rail infrastructure coordination to maximize these initial rail links. The members of the SCO, formed in 2001, include China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikstan, Uzbekistan with Iran, India, Mongolia and Pakistan as Observer Status countries.

Russia’s Land Bridge

Russia is well positioned to benefit greatly from such an SCO strategy. The First Eurasian Land Bridge runs through Russia along the Trans-Siberian Railway, first completed in 1916 to unify the Russian Empire. The Trans-Siberian remains the longest single rail line in the world at 9,297 kilometers, a tribute to the vision of Russian Sergei Witte in the 1890s. The Trans-Siberian Railway, also called the Northern East-West Corridor, runs from the Russian Far East Port of Vladivostok and links in Europe to the Port of Rotterdam some 13,000 kilometers. At present it is the less attractive for Pacific-to-Atlantic freight because of maintenance problems and maximum speeds of 55 km.

There are attempts to better use the Trans-Siberian Land Bridge. In January 2008 a long distance Eurasian rail freight service, the “Beijing-Hamburg Container Express” was successfully tested by the German railway Deutsche Bahn. It completed the 10,000 km (6,200 miles) journey in 15 days to link the Chinese capital to the German port city, going through Mongolia, the Russian Federation, Belarus and Poland. By ship to the same markets takes double the time or some 30 days.  This route, which began commercial service in 2010 incorporates a section of the existing Trans-Siberian Railway, a rail link using a broader gauge than either Chinese or European trains, meaning two offloads and reloads onto other trains at the China-Mongolia border and again at the Belarus-Poland border.

Were the Trans-Siberian railway passage across Russian Eurasian space to be modernized and upgraded to accommodate high-speed freight traffic, it would add a significant new economic dimension to the economic development of Russia’s interior regions. The Trans-Siberian is double-tracked and electrified. The need is minimally to improve some segments to insure a better integration of all the elements to make it a more attractive option for Eurasian freight to the west.

There are strong indications the new Putin presidency will turn more of its attention to Eurasia. Modernization of the First Eurasian Land Bridge would be a logical way to accomplish much of that development by literally creating new markets and new economic activity. With the bond markets of the United States and Europe flooded with toxic waste and state bankruptcy fears, issuance of Russian state bonds for modernization or even a new parallel high-speed rail Land Bridge linking to the certainty of growing freight traffic across Eurasia would have little difficulty finding eager investors.

Russia is currently in discussion with China and Chinese rail constructors who are bidding on construction of a planned $20 billion of new high-speed Russian rail track to be completed before the 2018 Russian hosting of the Soccer World Cup. China’s experience in building some 12,000 km of high speed rail in record time is a major asset for China’s bid. Significantly, Russia plans to raise $10 billion of the cost by issuing new railroad bonds. [9]

A Third Eurasian Land Bridge?

In 2009 at the Fifth Pan-Pearl River Delta Regional (PPRD) Cooperation and Development Forum, a government-sponsored event, the Yunnan provincial government announced its intention to accelerate construction of needed infrastructure to build a third Eurasian continental land bridge that will link south China to Rotterdam via Turkey over land. This is part of what Erdogan and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao discussed in Beijing this April. The network of inland roads for the land bridge within Yunnan province will be completed by 2015, said Yunnan governor Qin Guangrong. The project starts from coastal ports in Guangdong, with the Port of Shenzhen being the most important. It will ultimately go all the way through Kunming to Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Iran, entering Europe from Turkey. [10]

The route would cut some 6,000-km from the sea journey between the Pearl River Delta and Rotterdam and allow production from China’s eastern manufacturing centers to reach Asia, Africa and Europe. The proposal is for completing a series of missing rail and modern highway links totaling some 1,000 Km, not that inconceivable. In neighboring Myanmar a mere 300 km of railways and highways are lacking in order to link the railways in Yunnan with the highway network of Myanmar and South Asia. It will help China pave the way for building a land channel to the Indian Ocean.

The third Eurasian Land Bridge will cross 20 countries in Asia and Europe and have a total length of about 15,000 kilometers, which is 3,000 to 6,000 kilometers shorter than the sea route entering at the Indian Ocean from the southeast coast via the Malacca Straits. The total annual trade volume of the regions the route passes through was nearly US$300 billion in 2009. Ultimately the plan is for a branch line that would also start in Turkey, cross Syria and Palestine, and end in Egypt, facilitating transportation from China to Africa. Clearly the Pentagon’s AFRICOM and the US-backed Arab Spring unrest directly impacts that extension, though for how long at this point is unclear. [11]

The geopolitical dimension

Not every major international player is pleased about the growing linkages binding the economies of Eurasia with Western Europe and Africa. In his now famous 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives, former Presidential adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski noted,

In brief, for the United States, Eurasian geo-strategy involves the purposeful management of geo-strategically dynamic states…To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geo-strategy are to prevent collusion and to maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.”  Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, 1997, Basic Books, p. 40. See F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, Wiesbaden, 2011, edition.engdahl, for details of the role of the German Baghdad rail link in World War I.

The “barbarians” that Brzezinski refers to are China and Russia and all in between. The “imperial geo-strategy” refers to US strategic foreign policy. The “vassals” are countries like Germany, Japan and other NATO allies of the US. That Brzezinski geopolitical notion remains US foreign policy today.

The prospect of an unparalleled Eurasian economic boom lasting into the next Century and beyond is at hand. The first sinews of binding the vast economic space have been put in place or are being constructed with these rail links. It is becoming clear to more people in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Eurasia including China and Russia that their natural tendency to build these markets faces only one major obstacle: NATO and the US Pentagon’s Full Spectrum Dominance obsession.  In the period prior to World War I it was the decision in Berlin to build a rail land link to and through the Turkish Ottoman Empire from Berlin to Baghdad that was the catalyst for British strategists to incite the events that plunged Europe into the most destructive war in history to that date. This time hopefully we have a chance to avoid a similar fate with the Eurasian development. More and more the economically stressed economies of the EU are beginning to look east and less to their west across the Atlantic for Europe’s economic future.


[1] Sunday’s  Zaman, “Turkey, China mull $35 bln joint high-speed railway project,” Istanbul, April 14, 2012.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Washington is Playing a Deeper Game with China”, by F. William Engdahl, Voltaire Network, 13 July 2009.

[4] UNCTAD, “Port and multimodal transport developments,” 2008.

[5] Joseph O’Reilly, “BMW Rides Orient Express to China,” Global Logistics, October 2011.

[6] Aubrey Chang, “Antwerp-Chongqing Direct Rail Freight Link Launched,” May 12, 2011.

[7] CNTV, “Eurasian land bridge,” March 12, 2011.

[8] Shigeru Otsuka, Central Asia’s Rail Network and the Eurasian Land Bridge, (Pdf file), Japan Railway & Transport Review 28, September 2001, pp. 42-49.

[9] CNTV, “Russian rail official: Chinese bidder competitive,” November 21, 2011.

[10] Xinhua, “Yunnan accelerates construction of third Eurasia land bridge,” 2009.

[11] Li Yingqing and Guo Anfei, “Third land link to Europe envisioned,” China Daily, July 2, 2009.

Report: NATO misleads with ‘Afghan-led’ label

Report: NATO misleads with ‘Afghan-led’ label

A new report Wednesday by a Kabul-based think tank accuses international forces of misleading the public by calling military operations “Afghan-led” even in cases where NATO or U.S. forces are the only troops on the ground.


Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan —

A new report Wednesday by a Kabul-based think tank accuses international forces of misleading the public by calling military operations “Afghan-led” even in cases where NATO or U.S. forces are the only troops on the ground.

The charge cuts to the heart of a public perception battle being waged in Afghanistan, where international troops are eager to showcase successes by Afghan forces and to downplay the role played by international soldiers as NATO draws down forces and hands over security to Afghan control.

The United States and other nations that make up the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have already started pulling out troops with the goal of putting Afghans in charge of countrywide security by the end of 2014. The alliance wants to show that Afghans are up to the task so that the country does not descend into civil strife after 10 years of a NATO-led war against Taliban and al-Qaida militants.

“ISAF’s desire to present accounts of events as favorably as possible is to be expected, but sometimes this slips into propaganda, half-truths and, occasionally, cover up,” said British analyst Kate Clark, the author of the report by the Kabul-based think tank Afghan Analysts Network.

As the drawdown of foreign forces progresses, the international troops are expected to transition more and more into the role of supporting Afghan forces, rather than leading them.

A draft strategic partnership pact agreed by the U.S. and Afghanistan earlier this week said after 2014, U.S. forces will only fight in Afghanistan with the government’s approval.

In the transition, one phrase – “Afghan-led” – has become increasingly prevalent in NATO and U.S. news releases describing operations.

The report charges alleges that the term has been so loosely applied that it has, in at least once instance, been used for an assault conducted entirely by U.S. troops.

The report entitled “Death of an Uruzgan Journalist” focuses on the case of Afghan reporter Omaid Khpulwak, who was caught in a TV and radio broadcasting station known as the RTA building in July 2011 when it was attacked by insurgent suicide bombers as part of a larger attack on the southern city of Tarin Kot.

Khpulwak survived the initial blast but was shot by an American soldier who mistook him for an insurgent, according to a U.S. military investigation report made public by Australia’s “The Age” newspaper in January after a Freedom of Information Act request. The investigation also concluded that U.S. troops were the only ones to enter the building and that Afghan forces on the ground did not issue commands to those forces.

But a NATO news release a day after the attack said: “Afghan commandos and a combined team of Afghan national security forces responded unilaterally to insurgent attacks in Tarin Kot.”

Clark argues in her report that the messaging put out by the Afghan government and NATO and U.S. forces following the attacks in Uruzgan obfuscated the role of U.S. troops, leading Khpulwak’s family and others in Tarin Kot to suspect an intentional cover-up.

A spokesman for U.S. forces said it was still appropriate to call the Uruzgan response “Afghan-led” because Afghan forces were overseeing the entire response that day, which included defending against attackers at the governor’s compound and elsewhere in the city.

“The personnel that were at the RTA building were part of an Afghan-led response to the entire attack in Tarin Kot,” said Col. Gary Kolb. He said that any operation for which the command element is Afghan would be considered Afghan-led.

“Afghan-led is Afghan-led if we’re only providing a level of minimal support and they’re the ones making the decisions to do a particular response,” Kolb said.

But confusion appears to result from what qualifies as “minimal support.” In the case of Tarin Kot, U.S. forces made the decisions on the ground at the RTA building, entered the building and oversaw the operation to find the bombers hiding inside, according to the U.S. military investigation.

It’s a linguistic detail that will become increasingly important over the next few years as officials in the U.S. and other NATO countries will have to decide how quickly to remove troops from areas that have been handed over to Afghan control and how many to pull out.

The phrasing created confusion as recently as this month’s coordinated attacks on Kabul and three other eastern cities. Kabul city was one of the first areas to transition to Afghan control and NATO commander Gen. John Allen praised Afghan forces for fighting off the insurgents without having to call on international troops.

Of course, that was not the entire picture. The Afghan Crisis Response Unit – the quick reaction police force that led much of the response in the capital – has Norwegian and British special forces soldiers embedded in units. When a Greek and Turkish base came under fire, the NATO forces stationed there fired back, rather than waiting for Afghan forces to mount a defense, according to an AP reporter at the site at the time. And NATO air power was called in to finish off a standoff at two buildings and end the attack, Kolb said.

NATO and Afghan officials say Afghan forces have made great progress toward acting on their own and the response in the Kabul attacks shows that improvement.

“The Afghans did the majority of the operations,” Kolb said. “They were the ones doing the lead in the clearing operations, the ones scaling the building.”

And Afghan forces are taking charge of many more operations than they were a year ago.

A spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry said that including conventional operations, about 60 percent are now Afghan-led. Gen. Dawlat Waziri said that this means Afghans are deciding when and where to strike, but that coalition forces help with air power or ground forces if needed.

“In all the provinces that we have transitioned to Afghan control, we are in the lead,” Waziri said. “We have the commanders, we have the units, we are making the plans.”

Afghan special operations forces conduct about 5 percent of their operations completely unilaterally, meaning that Afghans conduct them without international intelligence, advice, airpower or other support, said Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, another U.S. forces spokesman. And he noted that joint Afghan-U.S. special operations have been overseen by the Afghan government for months.

“Since December, all U.S. counterterrorism and special forces missions have been Afghan-led,” said Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, another U.S. forces spokesman. He did not provide details on exactly what made them so.

Real Questions On Bannu Jailbreak


Jihadis all over

by Mujahid Hussain

Involved in the murder-attempt on Gen Musharraf, Adnan Rasheed was also among the terrorists who escaped in the wake of attack on Bannu prison. The attackers presented a salute to Adnan Rasheed and garlanded him in the courtyard of the prison before galloping

After a lull, the al-Qaeda and the Taliban terrorists have re-launched attacks in Pakistan. These attacks falsify the myth that al-Qaeda and the Taliban sympathizers had been combed out in the wake of the security forces’ successful operation in the Tribal Areas.

As a matter of fact, the Taliban terrorists have pushed the security forces and the local Peace Lashkars out of the area. Now the Taliban are attacking the urban areas and the adjoining settlements at will. The recent example of the Taliban penetration is the release of hundreds of dangerous criminals from the prison of Bannu, situated on the periphery of the Tribal Belt.

Involved in the murder-attempt on the military dictator Gen Musharraf, Adnan Rasheed was also among of the dangerous terrorists who escaped in the wake of an organized attack on Bannu prison. The attackers presented a salute to Adnan Rasheed and garlanded him in the courtyard of the prison before galloping.

This incident sufficiently reflects upon how powerful, daring and well-planned and organized are the terrorists. After attacking and getting released their cronies, the Taliban terrorists celebrated their victory for almost two hours but the security forces and the local police remained ‘unaware’ of the entire scene.

It is unbelievable with how much ease the Tehreek-e-Taliban warriors conquered Bannu prison. The Federal and provincial governments did nothing else to suspend the terrified jail officials.

The Minister for Interior is tight lipped on the issue. He knows that the religious terrorists have gained extreme powers and they have thousands of volunteers to achieve their target.

Afterwards, a private school was attacked with hand grenade in Peshawar, resulting in the deaths of the children. The State machinery has become toothless in the face of Lashkar-e-Islami Group operating in the periphery of Peshawar.

On the other hand it is almost impossible to stem the increasing influence of the Taliban in Waziristan and they have benefited a lot from the on-going tense relations between Pakistan and the US and the former’s step to cut the NATO supply line.

However, the Pakistani media are all praise for the Taliban while the intellectuals are busy paying homage to them in sermons as the architect of the Muslims Renaissance.

Meantime, another sinister development is an escalation of anti-Shia violence. Pakistan’s coastal city of Karachi has already witnessed targeted killings of Shia Muslims. Of late, Shia Muslims have increasingly come under attack in Gilgit-Baltistan region and Balochistan province. The al-Qaeda is availing of the services of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhngvi and Sipah-e-Sihaba outfits, who have declared the killing of Shia as Halal (rightful) in their respective decrees.

After the incident of the Laal Mosque in Islamabad, local Taliban and the terrorists belonging to the Punjab province increased the frequency of attacks on security forces. The army headquarters and ISI offices in Rawalpindi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Faisalabad came under the attack. The army officials were targeted while the police training centres and FIA were also attacked.

Under the aegis of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Maulana Samiul Haq, Munawar Hasan, Hameed Gul, etc. the Defence of Pakistan Council and Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman’s Defence of Pakistan Campaign have in fact provided lifeline to the forces fighting the State machinery.

As a result, it appears Hakimullah Mehsood of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is more powerful than the Governor of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and the Corps Commander of Peshawar. The Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and other officials have taken refuge to save themselves from wrath of Hakeemullah and his companions.

Rumours are rife that several provincial government officials pay hefty protection money to Hakeemullah. He has exihibited his power in Peshawar several times.

Rift among various TTP factions is also vanishing fast and it is a bad omen for the State machinery. The local Peace Lashkars have failed to face the rising power of the Taliban. The henchmen of Mangal Baagh are slaughtering the deserters day in and day out and headless bodies being found in the periphery of Peshawar as a routine matter. Mangal Bagh used to be the recipient of the biggest financial assistance of the State but now he has become a pain in the neck.

Another hardened group associated with the al-Qaeda and Taliban and hard to ignore is the one carrying out its activities in Balochistan, Karachi, Kurram Agency and Northern Areas for the ethnic cleansing of Shia. This group comprises warriors from the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Muhmmad, who enjoy support from high officials of the Punjab government. Jundullah facilitates this group in Balochistan while it enjoys the support of Punjabi Taliban in Northern Areas. This group is targeting the Shia community with utmost ease. This group attacks the convoys of buses with Shia pilgrims leaving from Quetta for Iraq, Iran and Syria via Zahdan-Taftan Road.

The Federal and provincial governments assign security with these convoys. But the group attacks these convoys when the security cordon ends from Mansehra to Gilgit and Skardu.

There have been attacks on Shia community in Northern Area. Tehreek-e-Taliban has issued at least ten decrees for the killing of Shias and declaring it Islamic to enslave their women and children.

The central leadership of these groups is based in various cities of Punjab. The Punjab based leadership of these groups issues directives for such terrorist activities and the attackers are provided shelter in the Madarassas in south Punjab.

Last year when the Federal government ordered the provincial government to arrest the activists of Tehreek-e-Taliban hiding in specific religious Madarassas of Dera Ghazi Khn, Multan, Bahawalpur, Layyiah, Rahim Yar Khan and Muzaffargarh then the provincial Law Minister refused.

Meantime, the South Asia Free Media Association’s offices in Lahore and Islamabad have received threats and the pamphlets and posters declaring the journalists working for the organization as infidel are also being published and disseminated.

The writer is an investigative journalist, his recent book Punjabi Taliban has been published by Pentagon publishers India. He can be contacted at hussainmujahid@gmail.com

That’s A Lot of Hash!

3,320kg of hashish seized by ANF near Rawalpindi

The truck driver, who was arrested, denied having any knowledge about contents of the consignment. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

RAWALPINDI: The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) seized a hashish consignment of 3,320kgs during a drug bust near Rawalpindi on Wednesday.

The destination of the consignment has not been ascertained as yet.

The truck driver, who was arrested, denied having any knowledge about the contents of the consignment.

The hashish was concealed inside different packets, with labels of tea and other grocery items.

The ANF officials said that the consignment was worth billions of rupees.

Express News reported that the drug was being smuggled from the Darra Adam Khel area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Pakistan’s Idiotic De-radicalization Plan Using the Most Radical Militant Leaders

Pakistan army uses bullets, and classrooms to fight militancy

Hafiz Saeed (above), suspected of masterminding an attack by Pakistan-based gunmen on India’s financial capital, Mumbai, in 2008 that killed 166 people, met government officials and pledged his support for the de-radicalisation drive, Pakistani officials said.— File Photo

GULIBAGH: Hazrat Gul spent two years in detention for allegedly aiding the Pakistani Taliban when they publicly flogged and beheaded people during a reign of terror in the scenic Swat Valley.    

Now he wiles away his time in pristine classrooms, a Pakistani flag pin on his crisp uniform, learning about word processing, carpentry and car repairs at the Mashal de-radicalisation centre run by the army.

Part of a carrot and stick approach to battling militancy in the strategic US ally, the aim is to cleanse minds of extremist thoughts through vocational training, and turn men like Gul into productive citizens who support the state.

The success of the programme will ultimately hinge, however, on the the ability of the government, widely seen as incompetent and corrupt, to help the de-radicalisation graduates find jobs.

“If a sincere leadership comes to this country, that will solve the problems,” said Gul, 42, one of the Mashal students. “Today the leadership is not sincere. The same problems will be there.”

Pakistan’s military drove militants out of Swat in 2009.

Mashal is in the building which used to be the headquarters of the militants from where they imposed there austere version of Islam.
Eventually, the army realised it couldn’t secure long-term peace with bullets alone.

So military officers, trainers, moderate clerics and psychologists were chosen to run three-month courses designed to erase “radical thoughts” of those accused of aiding the Taliban.

Students like Mohammad Inam, 28, a former assistant engineer, give the school a good report card.

“The environment is very good. Our teachers work very hard with us. They talk to us about peace, about terrorism and how that is not right,” said Inam, in the presence of a military officer. “God willing, we will go out and serve our country and our nation.”

School officials say about 1,000 people have graduated since the initiative began two years ago, and that only 10 per cent were not cleared for release.

Officials concede that their “students” are not hardened militants who killed. Mostly, they provided the Taliban with water, food or shelter, or beat people.

That was enough for a two-year detention, and some say abuse, in a country where the Taliban stage suicide bombings at will and have launched brazen attacks, including one on the army headquarters near the capital.

Even if the Mashal institute instills a new mindset and discipline in the students, graduates face an uncertain future.

The South Asian nation always seems to be on the verge of collapse and is often described as a failed state unable to cope with power cuts, widespread poverty and violence.

“The problem is the deprivation being faced by these individuals. There is no electricity. There are price hikes. There is no law and order or justice which prevails in the country,” said Major Khurram Bajwa, one of Mashal’s directors.

He pointed out how easy it is for the Taliban to recruit people. “It takes about two years to train an army officer, and one month to train a suicide bomber.”


Pakistan joined the US global war on militancy after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, but critics accuse Islamabad of actually fostering the security nightmare in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region by supporting militant groups it values as strategic assets. Pakistan denies the allegations.

The confusion was highlighted this month, when the United States put a $10 million bounty on an Islamist leader who Pakistani officials say has in fact been helping them turn militants away from a life as radicals.

Hafiz Saeed, suspected of masterminding an attack by Pakistan-based gunmen on India’s financial capital, Mumbai, in 2008 that killed 166 people, met government officials and pledged his support for the de-radicalisation drive, the officials said. Saeed’s organisation denied this.


Pakistan’s military presents the Swat offensive and the campaign to root out extremism as a showcase of its success against militancy.

On the surface, the valley looks far more stable than it did in the Taliban days when Fazlullah, known as FM Mullah for his fiery radio sermons, was ordering his men to take to the streets and punish the “immoral”, or anyone who disagreed with his violent philosophy.

Residents of Swat, 160 km from Islamabad, crowd street markets. Girls schools that were blown up by the Taliban have reopened. A ski resort burned down by the Taliban has re-opened.

That is due in large part to a sense of security created by the thousands of Pakistani soldiers still stationed there.

But the army’s successes have been tarnished by allegations of human rights abuses.

Human Rights Watch says it has received credible reports of extrajudicial killings allegedly committed by soldiers or police in Swat. The army counters that it takes human rights seriously and has launched an investigation into the matter.

Assad intensifies cyberwar against Qatar

Assad intensifies cyberwar against Qatar

By Roula Khalaf in London and Abeer Allam

Financial Times

The Qatari prime minister’s daughter is arrested in London. Qatar’s army chief stages a coup against the emir. Hamad bin Jassim, the prime minister, is sacked. None of these stories is true, but for a while Syria’s embattled regime tried to make them credible partly thanks to a group of loyal hackers.

Late on Monday, the so-called Syrian Electronic Army, the cyber activists who spam Facebook and Twitter with pro-government messages, hacked into the Twitter account of Saudi Arabia’s al-Arabiya news channel and planted the report of Mr bin Jassim’s removal. As al-Arabiya rushed to report that its social networks were infiltrated, the hackers posted news about an explosion at a Qatari natural gasfield.

The cyberwar against Qatar is part of escalating efforts by Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, to paint the revolt against him as a geopolitical struggle by wealthy Gulf monarchies bent on Syria’s destruction, rather than a brutal attempt to put down a popular uprising .

To a certain extent the regional battle is real: Qatar and Saudi Arabia, long-time rivals in the region, have been remarkably unified over Syria, and have taken the harshest line against Mr Assad. The removal of the Syrian strongman, Iran’s main ally in the Arab world, would alter the balance of power in the Middle East in the Sunni Gulf monarchies’ favour.

Doha and Riyadh have openly backed arming the Syrian opposition, an effort that is likely to accelerate if the current mission of Kofi Annan, the UN and Arab League envoy, fails to produce a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis. Qatari officials have made no secret of their scepticism towards the Annan mission, saying they expected Mr Assad to manipulate rather than comply with its terms.

“This is a fight to the death now, the Qataris won’t relent in trying to get rid of Bashar,” says one political analyst familiar with the thinking in Doha.

For Damascus, Qatar appears to be an easier target than Saudi Arabia, perhaps because it is a smaller Arab nation whose foreign policy has often been considered controversial by its neighbours.

Assad regime loyalists have been peddling the conspiracy theory that the unrest in Syria is not an uprising but a Qatari-instigated aggression designed to dominate the country and ensure Qatari access to the Mediterranean Sea for its gas exports.

“It’s one of the myths fabricated by the regime, claiming that Qatar wanted to build a gas pipeline through Syria but Bashar refused,” says Samir al-Taqi, a Dubai-based Syrian political analyst. “The regime comes up with these theories in order to justify its violence.”

Some analysts say the dispute between Syria and Qatar is increasingly bitter because it has also become personal, pitting two ruling families that were close friends against each other. Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, was a big supporter of Mr Assad, lending diplomatic backing and promoting investments in Syria.

While Doha emerged as a champion of Arab uprisings last year, it was more cautious when Syria’s revolution erupted in March 2011. The emir was among the first to counsel Mr Assad to introduce political reforms that would douse the fire of the revolt.

“The Qataris were conspicuously quiet in the first couple of months of the uprising and had felt that Bashar was the right man to take Syria into a different era, but then they concluded that he was a big liar,” says Salman Sheikh, an analyst at the Brookings Doha Centre, a think-tank. “A lot of what’s driving this [Qatari policy] is bitter disappointment.”

The relationship between Qatar and Syria was illustrated by hacked emails recently published by the UK’s Guardian newspaper. They purportedly included an exchange between Sheikha Mayassa al-Thani, the daughter of the Qatari emir, and Asma al-Assad, the first lady, which depict the two women as friends growing increasingly apart.

In one email, Sheikha Mayassa advises Mrs Assad to persuade her husband to give up power and suggests the family would be given refuge in Qatar.

“My father regards President Bashar as a friend, despite the current tensions – he always gave him genuine advice; the opportunity for real change and development was lost a long time ago,” says Sheikha Mayassa in the email. “Nevertheless, [when] one opportunity closes, others open up – and I hope it’s not too late for reflection and coming out of the state of denial.”

Additional reporting by Michael Peel in Damascus and Abigail Fielding-Smith in Beirut

Justice Department Won’t Reopen Probe of 1970 Kent State shootings, Despite New Evidence

Justice Department won’t reopen probe of 1970 Kent State shootings

(click on image for full-size view)

Plain Dealer historical photo collection

John Darnell took this photo at the moment that Ohio National Guardsmen began firing at Kent State University students during an anti-war protest on May 4, 1970.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The U.S. Justice Department has declined to reopen its investigation of the 1970 Kent State shootings by Ohio National Guardsmen, citing legal obstacles to further prosecutions and doubts about new evidence reported by The Plain Dealer in 2010.

“There are insurmountable legal and evidentiary barriers to bringing a second federal case in this matter,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez wrote in a letter made public Monday announcing the agency’s decision. (Read the full text of the letter in the document viewer below)

An audio tape of the shootings that the newspaper reported may contain provocative sounds, pistol shots and an order for the Guard to fire is inconclusive, Perez said, citing an FBI analysis of the tape.

Alan Canfora, one of the wounded Kent State students and who, as director of the Kent May 4 Center has pushed for a full accounting of the tragedy, said he was disappointed but not surprised by the Justice Department’s decision. Canfora and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland had requested the review after The Plain Dealer’s reports were published.

“It’s absurd for anyone to expect the Justice Department to thoroughly investigate itself, including its FBI division,” Canfora said. “I don’t think they’re fair, I don’t think they’re objective, and the only way they can alleviate this controversy about their own failed investigation is to go to some outside, independent experts.”

Stuart Allen, one of the forensic audio experts who two years ago examined the audio tape of the shooting at The Plain Dealer’s request, said he was baffled by the FBI’s conclusion that the recording is unintelligible. He said the FBI determination that what he interpreted as pistol shots were actually slamming doors was “beyond ludicrous.”

The FBI referred questions to the Justice Department, which had not responded to a request for comment as of Monday night.

This excerpt from a copy of Terry Strubbe’s Kent State recording contains the order for the Guard to prepare to fire. The word “Guard!” can be heard at 9.3 seconds. “All right, prepare to fire” begins at 19.5 seconds. “Get down!” is spoken at 22.3 seconds. The final “Guard!” is at 23.7 seconds, and the gunshots begin at 26 seconds.

The government’s refusal quashes one of the few remaining opportunities to resolve the shootings, which gripped the nation 42 years ago.

The killing of four unarmed Kent State University students and wounding of nine others by Ohio National Guardsmen during a protest of the Vietnam War on May 4, 1970 was a pivotal, divisive event in 20th Century American history. What prompted the Guardsmen to fire has remained a mystery for four decades.

Ohio Gov. James Rhodes had sent the Guard to Kent State to quell disturbances on campus. Shortly after noon on May 4, as a raucous anti-war protest appeared to be winding down, a group of Guardsmen marched up Blanket Hill toward a staging area. At the crest of the hill, several dozen of the soldiers wheeled and fired rifles, shotguns and sidearms 67 times during a 13-second barrage.

Though some Guardsmen reported they had heard an order to fire, officers on the scene denied giving such a command. Speculation also focused on some action or sound that may have triggered the soldiers to defensively shoot, but the presidential commission that investigated the Kent State affair determined the Guard faced no danger that warranted lethal force.

Altercation and pistol fire

Warning: Contains offensive language

4.5 seconds: Sounds of crowd yelling, cheering.
37.2 seconds: “Retreat!”
41.5 seconds: Male voice: “They got somebody.” Victory bell begins ringing.
51 seconds: Crowd roars.
59.1 seconds: Male voice: “Kill him!”
59.8 seconds: Male voice: “Kill him!”
1:08.3 seconds: Sounds of struggle.
1:01.7 seconds: First pistol shot.
1:10.2 seconds: Female voice: “Whack that (expletive)!” or “Hit that (expletive)!”
1:15.2 seconds: Second pistol shot.
1:21.7 seconds: Third pistol shot.
1:25.5 seconds: Fourth pistol shot.

Federal prosecutors charged eight low-ranking Guardsmen in connection with the shootings, but a federal judge dismissed the case in 1974. A subsequent civil lawsuit by the victims and families against the Guardsmen and other parties ended in 1979 with a $675,000 settlement and a “statement of regret” for what happened.

One piece of evidence that the government reviewed during its prosecution of the Guardsmen was a reel-to-reel audio tape recorded by a Kent State student, Terry Strubbe. from his dorm room window near Blanket Hill.

The tape captured the sounds of the protest prior to the shootings, the fusillade of gunfire, and its aftermath. A government-commissioned analysis(pdf) of the tape by an acoustics firm in 1974 focused on the pattern of Guard gunshots. The analysis did not note any unusual sounds or additional firing. The FBI’s Cleveland office apparently destroyed the original Strubbe tape in 1979, according to the Justice Department.

Canfora located a cassette copy of the long-forgotten Strubbe tape in a Yale University archive several years ago and urged reporters to examine its contents.

In 2010, as the 40th anniversary of the shootings approached, Canfora provided a copy of the Yale cassette to The Plain Dealer. The newspaper commissioned its analysis of the Strubbe recording, hoping that advances in audio technology might reveal more about its contents.

The initial examination was done by Allen and Tom Owen, two nationally recognized forensic audio experts.

Plain Dealer fileStuart Allen, left, and Tom Owen analyze what they’re hearing on an audiotape of the Kent State shootings at Allen’s lab in Plainfield, N.J. Allen and Owen are forensic audio analysts who have examined the audio tape of the shootings.

Using software to filter noise and enhance sounds on the Strubbe recording, Allen and Owen determinedthere was a male voice readying the soldiers to fire seconds before the shooting began. “Guard! . . . All right, prepare to fire!” the analysts reported hearing, followed by another voice yelling “Get down!” The first voice then says, “Guard, fi–,” with the final word drowned out by gunshots.

In October 2010, after Allen conducted dozens of hours of additional analysis, he reported discovering the sounds of a violent altercation, with shouts of “Kill him!” and four .38-caliber revolver shots about 70 seconds before the Guard gunfire begins.

Some Guardsmen claimed they had fired in reaction to gunshots, possibly from a sniper, but said their response was much quicker than the 70-second interval captured on the recording.

Some details of the altercation Allen identified on the recording seem similar to an incident involvingTerry Norman, a Kent State law enforcement student who was carrying a concealed .38-caliber pistol during the May 4 protest. Norman was photographing demonstrators for the Kent State University police and the FBI. He claimed he was assaulted by angry crowd members and said he drew his gun to warn them away. But he denied shooting and said the attack happened after the Guard gunfire, not before.

Several witnesses said they heard a Kent State policeman who inspected Norman’s gun exclaim that it had been fired four times. The officer later denied making the remark. An FBI lab test determined Norman’s pistol had been fired since its last cleaning, but could not pinpoint when. A federal grand jury questioned Norman in 1973, but he was not charged.

Perez based the Justice Department’s decision not to reinvestigate the case primarily on legal constraints. Because of the eight Guardsmen’s 1974 acquittal, the Constitution’s “double jeopardy” clause prohibits the government from re-trying the surviving soldiers, Perez said, even if new evidence arises.

If further investigation revealed that state or federal officials orchestrated the Kent State shootings, or tried to cover up wrongdoing, the Justice Department still couldn’t do anything, Perez said. That’s because the deadline for filing a civil rights case has passed.

Although the government lacked a legal foundation to re-open the case, Perez said the Justice Department still decided to review the Strubbe recording. The agency asked the FBI’s forensic audio, video and image analysis unit in Quantico, Va., to determine if there was evidence of a firing order or four pistol shots, as The Plain Dealer review had shown.

Alan Canfora by Mark Duncan AP 2007.JPG
Mark Duncan, AP fileAlan Canfora shows a copy of the Strubbe tape during a 2007 news conference.

The FBI obtained and analyzed a digital copy of the Yale version, as The Plain Dealer had done.

The FBI’s analysts didn’t contact Allen or the newspaper to request a copy of his enhanced tape, or to ask about his methods. Owen is out of the country and unavailable to address whether the FBI contacted him.

A team of eight audio examiners and technicians used software to try to enhance voices and sounds in critical sections of the tape.

Overall, the FBI examiners found the tape segment containing the purported firing command to be unintelligible, according to Perez’s letter. Their impression, although admittedly uncertain, was that there were no commands, and that the shouts the newspaper’s analysts interpreted as an order to prepare to shoot probably came from several people located closer to the tape recorder’s microphone than where the soldiers stood.

As for the four suspected pistol shots prior to the Guard gunfire, the FBI examiners suspect – but again say they are not certain – they are door slams, as people entered and left Strubbe’s dorm room. The FBI examiners said they heard seven similar thuds over a period of two and a half minutes after the Guard gunfire ended.

Perez’s letter notes that a search of the Kent State grounds after the shootings “revealed no ammunition casings that were not attributed to the weapons used by the Guardsmen.”

Alan Canfora, Special to The Plain DealerThis photo shows two spent .38-caliber casings recovered from the Kent State shooting site and now in Yale University’s archive.

However, a photo in the Yale archives indicates the government was in possession of at least two .38-caliber casings recovered from the shooting site. The government determined that the soldiers fired only rifles, .45-caliber pistols, shotguns and grenade launchers.

Allen said he has worked with the FBI before and would have shared his methodology and findings with them, had they asked. “We did everything by the FBI’s own guidelines,” he said. “If they were serious in their investigation, they should have contacted us.”

Allen said he compared the four banging sounds on the tape to a database of gunshots recorded from various weapons to determine they were from a .38. The sonic signature of a gunshot is distinctly different than that of a slamming door, he said – “not even close.”

On the tape, “we did hear doors opening and closing, but not at time of the pistol shots,” Allen said. The analyst said he stands by his findings and would testify they are accurate to a “very high degree of scientific certainty.”

Canfora said six of the seven surviving shooting victims, along with attorneys, will meet in Kent at next month’s May 4 commemoration to discuss and reveal what actions they will take next. Canfora has repeatedly said the survivors don’t seek prosecution or punishment of the remaining Guardsmen, but want an apology and an admission of responsibility.

“We’re considering all of our options,” he said, including the possibility of civil lawsuits. “We never expected our efforts with the U.S. Justice Department to be our only avenue in the search for justice. I’m convinced that with further independent analysis of the digital forensic evidence, we’ll conclusively soon prove that the Kent State massacre was an intentional slaughter of innocent, unarmed students. I think at some point even the government will have to admit that truth.”

Death Squads and Counter-Death Squads In Syria

[It is no coincidence that one day after Obama signed an Executive Order targeting both the sellers and the users of technological means to target the US-supported activists who are using social media to organize revolution in Syria (SEE:  Obama Targeting Individuals Who Supply Anti-Facebook Busting Technology to Iran and Syria) Syrian intelligence officials are themselves being targeted.  Reports such as the one below confirm for the rest of the world that American covert counter-assassins (CIA- funded death squads) are busy at their bloody work.]

Syrian Rebels Target Security Officials in Capital

 By BEN HUBBARD Associated Press

Rebels seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad killed three regime officers in separate attacks Tuesday around Damascus, activists and state media said, the latest violence targeting the security forces used by the government to quash dissent.

A bomb hidden in an army truck also exploded in the capital, wounding several people.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said an intelligence officer was shot dead in the northeastern Barzeh neighborhood of the capital Damascus. Also Tuesday, the state news service said “terrorists” shot to death a retired lieutenant colonel and his brother, a chief warrant officer, in an area southwest of the capital.

Inside the city, explosives planted in an army truck blew up as the vehicle traveled through downtown, leaving a hole in its roof and blood and shattered glass on the road. The truck’s driver and two passengers in a nearby car were injured and taken to a hospital.

The state news service said an “armed terrorist group” planted explosives under the driver’s side.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The 11-person U.N. team is in Syria to observe the cease-fire and prepare for a total of 300 monitors to arrive later.

Tuesday’s attacks underlined the increasing militarization of the conflict, which began in March 2011 as peaceful protests calling for political reforms with inspiration from successful revolts in Egypt and Tunisia. The government cracked down with massive force, deploying troops, snipers and pro-government thugs against the opposition, while regime opponents armed themselves for protection and joined forces with army defectors.

The U.N. says more than 9,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said an intelligence officer was shot dead in the northeastern Barzeh neighborhood of the capital Damascus. Also Tuesday, the state news service said “terrorists” shot to death a retired lieutenant colonel and his brother, a chief warrant officer, in an area southwest of the capital.

Inside the city, explosives planted in an army truck blew up as the vehicle traveled through downtown, leaving a hole in its roof and blood and shattered glass on the road. The truck’s driver and two passengers in a nearby car were injured and taken to a hospital.

The state news service said an “armed terrorist group” planted explosives under the driver’s side.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The 11-person U.N. team is in Syria to observe the cease-fire and prepare for a total of 300 monitors to arrive later.

Tuesday’s attacks underlined the increasing militarization of the conflict, which began in March 2011 as peaceful protests calling for political reforms with inspiration from successful revolts in Egypt and Tunisia. The government cracked down with massive force, deploying troops, snipers and pro-government thugs against the opposition, while regime opponents armed themselves for protection and joined forces with army defectors.

The U.N. says more than 9,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began.

Associated Press writer Albert Aji contributed reporting from Damascus, Syria.

Russian/US Airborne Commandos To Hold New World Order Anti-Terror Drills At Ft. Carson, Colorado Springs

[We are finally seeing all those warnings about UN, or Russian forces operating on US soil coming true (SEE:  Moscow Pushes for CSTO-NATO Unity of Mission, Separate Spheres of Influence).  The need to hide their real intentions is evidently passing, judging from such blatant joint military efforts such as these.  They are preparing to defend the NWO from American patriots.  We are so screwed.]

Russia, U.S. to Hold Anti-terror Drills in May



Web Editor: Jiang
Airborne troops from Russia and the Untied States would hold joint anti-terror drills in the U.S. state of Colorado between May 24 and 31, spokesman of the Russian Defense Ministry Col. Alexander Kucherenko said on Thursday.

According to the spokesman, it will be the first time that the Russian airborne forces have held exercises with the U.S. airborne forces on the U.S. territory.

“According to the exercise scenario, soldiers of the two countries will hold a tactical airborne operation, including the reconnaissance of imaginary terrorists’ camp and a raid,” Kucherenko said.

“After the operation, a helicopter will evacuate the soldiers,” Kucherenko said, adding that the Russian soldiers will also exercise with the U.S. special service weapons in the drills in Fort Carson, Colorado.

Besides, the spokesman said, the Russian group will arrive a week ahead of the drills and attend a baseball game in the city of Colorado Springs.


NGO crackdown: Gagging democracy or national self-defense?

Protesters burn a mock U.S. flag, condemning the decision of the Ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to release American activists who were involved in what is known as the NGO foreign fund case, in front of the U.S embassy in Cairo March 9, 2012.

Protesters burn a mock U.S. flag, condemning the decision of the Ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to release American activists who were involved in what is known as the NGO foreign fund case, in front of the U.S embassy in Cairo March 9, 2012 (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

NGO crackdown: Gagging democracy or national self-defense?


Egypt has denied licenses to eight US-based non-profit groups, saying they violated the country’s sovereignty. Many states are concerned that foreign government-backed NGOs are really agents for their sponsors, rather than independent action groups.

Among the organizations banned from continuing their work in Egypt are the Carter Center for Human Rights, set up by former US President Jimmy Carter, Christian group The Coptic Orphans, Seeds of Peace and other groups.

Egyptian authorities warned that if the NGOs try to work without a license, Cairo would “take relevant measures”.

Local media speculate that the rejection may be temporary, and licenses could be granted later, after the presidential election due on May 23 and 24.

Monday’s move revives a crackdown by the Egyptian authorities on foreign-funded NGOs, which recently provoked a serious diplomatic row with long-term ally US. In late December 2011, security forces raided offices of a number of groups suspected of receiving money in violation of Egyptian legislation.

In February, prosecutors charged 43 people with instilling dissent and meddling in domestic policies following last year’s mass protests, which resulted in the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak. Among them were citizens of the US, Germany, Serbia, Norway and Jordan.

In March, an Egyptian court revoked the travel ban for 17 indicted Americans following Washington’s threat to withdraw $1.3 billion annual military aid to Cairo. The decision provoked a wave criticism of the ruling military council in Egypt. Many activists accused them of betraying national interests under American pressure.

But shortly after the suspected Americans left the country, Cairo’s prosecutors decided to target more people allegedly involved in the case, who were not in Egypt when the charges against their colleagues were made. Egypt asked Interpol to issue “red notices” for 15 NGO workers, including 12 Americans, two Lebanese and a Jordanian.

On Monday, Interpol’s French headquarters announced that the Egyptian request had been turned down, because it contradicted rules that strictly forbid the organization “to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.”

Not so non-government

There may be a good reason why national governments in troubled countries mistrust US-funded NGOs. For instance, NATO’s intervention in Libya was partially justified by exaggerated reports of human rights organizations alleging that Muammar Gaddafi’s forces committed crimes against humanity and breached international law in other ways, reports RT’s Maria Portnaya. After the war some of them admitted to giving ungrounded reports.

Powerful NGOs like Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International are supposed to be objective monitors and not take sides, but in reality they “enter into an excessively cozy relationship with for example the United States government, but also other powerful Western allies, over Libya and over other issues,” John Laughland from the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation told RT.

This is what happened in Libya and is now happening in Syria, he added.

“The equivalent, if you like, of the Libyan League of Human Rights, which is called the Damascus Centre for Human Rights, has played exactly the same role. They’ve alleged crimes against humanity. They’ve called for safe havens, and armed intervention in that country. And they are quite clear political lobbyists, who are trying to secure a military intervention against Syria along the lines of the one approved last year against Libya,”
 Laughland explained.

Another example is the group behind the Kony 2012 initiative. The California-based NGO Invisible Children is calling to stop the use of child soldiers and is promoting peace in the Ugandan civil war. But the same organization provided Uganda’s authorities with intelligence that led to the arrest of several regime opponents, as a US embassy cable published by WikiLeaks revealed.

“I’m willing to believe that was not the one time that Invisible Children provided information to the Ugandan authorities. What else do we not know, in terms of their relations with the Ugandan Government?” asks Milton Allimadi, Editor-in-chief of the Black Star News.

The viral video calling on a campaign to stop Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army appeared just months after President Obama decided to send 100 US military advisors to the region to help local governments remove Kony “from the battlefield”. Some human rights organizations criticized the move, saying among those receiving American aid is South Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army, which is known to exploit child soldiers just like Kony does.

NGOs are not currently held accountable for the information they publish, no matter how much collateral damage false facts may cause. Critics say some of those organizations actually pave the way for conflict rather than advocating peaceful solutions.

Afghan Stability Undermined by Pakistan, General Says

Afghan Stability Undermined by Pakistan Army, U.S. General Says

AFP via Getty Images

An Afghan policeman stands guard as a pile of narcotics is destroyed by officials in Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province.

By Viola Gienger

Hard-won stability in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province is undermined by the Pakistan Army’s failure to help stem the flow of arms coming into the area and drugs going out, a U.S. general said.

“Everything is good, but it’s not irreversible,” Marine Corps Major General John Toolan said in an interview in Washington yesterday after appearing before the Atlantic Council, a policy research group. He ended a one-year tour last month as the commander in charge of the NATO coalition’s southwestern regional command responsible for Helmand.

An Afghan policeman stands guard as a pile of narcotics is destroyed by officials in Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province. Source: AFP via Getty Images

Toolan’s prognosis highlights the risks as the U.S.-led coalition turns its attention to eastern Afghanistan and prepares to withdraw more forces this year. President Barack Obamaplans to cut U.S. troops by 23,000 more this year in preparation for handing control to Afghan authorities by the end of 2014.

With reductions planned by other countries in the 50-nation coalition, about 108,000 personnel will be left until a next round of cuts. The number of U.S. Marines in Helmand is due to drop to 7,000 by October from about 20,000 now, Toolan said in the interview.

“We need to maintain the pressure,” Toolan told the Atlantic Council audience. “The insurgency in the south is the greatest threat to the government of Afghanistan.”

Haqqani Network

The guerrillas known as the Haqqani network, who mainly operate in the country’s east from havens across the Pakistani border, have received attention beyond their potential longer- term impact on Afghanistan, Toolan said. The Haqqanis mainly operate to maintain themselves rather than to achieve any grander designs, he said.

“As the insurgency goes, the Haqqani network goes,” Toolan said. “If you can keep a lid on the insurgency, the Haqqani network is not going to be as all-powerful as some people talk it up to be.”

In Helmand, the need to place forces at the border detracts from efforts elsewhere in the province to compensate for a weak central Afghan government and drug-fueled corruption, Toolan said.

“I know for a fact that drugs are moving out through Pakistan and lethal aid is coming in on a regular basis,” Toolan told the Atlantic Council. “I have had no support from 12th Corps,” the Pakistan Army unit in charge of the area across the border, he said.

He said he tried to organize meetings with the corps to discuss the issue. “There always seemed to be something that interfered,” he said.

Pakistan’s Response

A spokesman for Pakistan’s embassy in Washington, Nadeem Hotiana, said coordination on common threats has occurred in regular three-way talks among border officials from his country, Afghanistan and the coalition led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“There are certain trilateral meetings where such issues can be discussed,” Hotiana said yesterday in an interview, declining to comment further.

Pakistan sees it in its own interest to cooperate on narcotics trafficking and the cross-border arms trade because they threaten everyone involved, said another Pakistani official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he isn’t authorized to comment publicly. Pakistan’s military makes sincere efforts within its limitations, the official said.

The U.S. and Pakistan have struggled to rebuild relations, dashed every few months by a confrontation. In January 2011, a CIA employee shot dead two Pakistani men in Lahore. U.S. special operations forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May during a raid conducted without notice to Pakistan in its army garrison town of Abbottabad. In November, helicopters of the NATO coalition in Afghanistan inadvertently killed 26 Pakistani troops at the border.

Poppy Cultivation

In Helmand Province, corrupt Afghan officials and security forces and the continuing financial temptations of poppy cultivation also endanger efforts by the coalition and legitimate local authorities to win over the population from the Taliban, Toolan said.

“If the central government of Afghanistan doesn’t stay strong, then there are individuals in the central government who can significantly hurt the progress that’s been made,” the general said.

The answer may be to more aggressively apply provisions of Afghanistan’s constitution that delegate authority to local officials, he said.

The Afghan army and police will continue to need robust backing from international forces through 2014, Toolan said. That includes intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technology to supplement their human intelligence sources, as well as training in military medicine and even firing accuracy, he said.

The U.S. is deploying surveillance balloons with full- motion video to buttress the Afghan forces as the coalition draws back to an advising role, Toolan said. The police also need more training by experts in the field rather than the “dabbling” that coalition military forces are able to provide, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Viola Gienger in Washington at vgienger@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net

India Defying US Sanctions On Iran

Exclusive: Indian shipping firms to carry Iran crude despite reduced insurance

A general view of an oil dock is seen from a ship at the port of Kalantari in the city of Chabahar, 300km (186 miles) east of the Strait of Hormuz January 17, 2012. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

By Nidhi Verma and Randy Fabi

NEW DELHI/SINGAPORE | Tue Apr 24, 2012 5:56am EDT

(Reuters) – Indian shipping firms will continue to transport Iranian crude even if limited insurance coverage due to tightening Western sanctions leaves them financially exposed to a spill or accident, a top executive and industry sources said.

Tough new European Union sanctions aimed at stopping Iran’s oil exports to Europe also ban EU insurers and reinsurers from covering tankers carrying Iranian crude anywhere in the world from July. Around 90 percent of the world’s tanker insurance is based in the West, so the measures threaten shipments to Iran’s top Asian buyers China, India, Japan and South Korea.

The sanctions seek to stem the flow of petrodollars to Tehran to force the OPEC member to halt a nuclear program the West suspects is intended to produce weapons.

Shipping Corp of India, which is the country’s largest shipping firm, Great Eastern and other Indian tanker firms have asked state insurers to step in and provide up to $50 million in third-party liability coverage per tanker voyage.

The amount is a fraction of the typical $1 billion coverage that a supertanker carrying around 2 million barrels of crude would have from reinsurers against personal injury and pollution claims.

India’s shipping companies would run the risk of shipping the crude even though they would be liable for any claims above $50 million in the case of an incident, industry sources said.

“To the best of our knowledge, over the last 10 years, none of the Indian shipping companies carrying Iranian crude oil into India has had any major incident relating to pollution or anything,” Shipping Corp Chairman S. Hajara told Reuters on the sidelines of an industry conference in Singapore.

“Since there have been no claims in 10 years, we felt if we have cover of $50 million as a commercial organization it would be worthwhile for us to continue in that business.”

India is the world’s fourth-largest oil importer and one of the biggest customers for Iran’s 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil exports. On average, there are 10 crude shipments a month from Iranto refineries on the west coast of India.

A major oil spill from one of these tankers could leave Indian shipowners liable for billions of dollars in damages.

The most expensive oil spill was the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska in 1989, which industry groups estimate has cost as much as $7 billion so far in clean-up, fines, penalties and claims.

“Exxon Valdez happens once in decades. If you think all your risk must be covered, then you should not be in business,” Hajara said, adding that liability limits for an oil spill have extended beyond $1 billion and $3 billion for other incidents.

“We have been very clear that Indian insurance companies will have a tough task, if not impossible, to get reinsurance if the sanctions really set in. We know if we ask for a huge amount of cover we will never get it.”

The biggest reinsurers are located in Europe and according to some industry experts the only way to cope with the loss of European reinsurers would be for governments of importing countries to provide federal guarantees to cover any expenses relating to personal and pollution claims.

Shipowners have asked the government for sovereign guarantees, but have not received a response, Hajara said. Indian firms, along with Japan and South Korea, have also lobbied European officials for exemptions to the EU sanctions.

India’s refiners are already cutting imports to comply with a separate set of U.S. sanctions requiring Iran’s crude clients to significantly cut purchases. Refiners could cut imports by about a quarter in the 2012-2013 year that began on April 1, but are keen to keep the remaining imports coming.

In the fiscal year that ended on March 31, India’s imports from Iran were less than 340,000 bpd, compared with the 362,000 bpd committed under annual term contracts. India is currently importing about 280,000 bpd.

A finance ministry source said the Indian government would consider any action necessary to keep oil flowing from Iran, India’s second-biggest supplier after Saudi Arabia, including offering sovereign guarantees to shipments.

The shipping firms have sent their request to state insurers United India Insurance, General Insurance Company, New India Assurance Co. Ltd., National Insurance Co. Ltd. and the Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., said a shipping source. The shipping and finance ministries were also looking at the proposal.

A final decision is expected “very soon,” Hajara said.

Japanese insurers have also warned ship owners they will only cover one tanker at a time carrying Iranian crude through the Middle East because their ability to provide cover is limited without the European reinsurance market.

That will reduce the number of tankers carrying Iranian oil to three or four a month as each ship takes about a week to 10 days to travel in and out of the Gulf, sources said, compared with about 10 ships a month last year.

Japan has cut its April crude loadings from Iran by nearly 80 percent compared to the first two months of the year.

(Additional reporting by Clare Baldwin in HONG KONG and Manoj Kumar in NEW DELHI; Editing by Jo Winterbottom, Simon Webb and Clarence Fernandez)

They took away God of butterflies and flowers–The Hijacking of Islam

They took away God of butterflies and flowers

-Photo Courtesy Ayesha Vellani/White Star

This is a story that we often tell each other at the Alif Laila Tavern in Virginia because it concerns all of us. It is about a great loss that few understand and fewer mourn.

Terrorism has hurt Muslims more than it has hurt any other community. It has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Muslims across the word. But what’s worse is that it hijacked our faith and changed it into something even we cannot recognise now. It also took our God away from us.


We were in our backyard — God and me — when they came. They took him away and changed him. He was a friendly God before. We roamed around together, holding hands. We collected colored feathers, glorious flowers and chased delicate butterflies.

And we could talk, spend hours in friendly chats. When they came we were having an important friend-talk. He was explaining why butterflies stain our hands and fireflies do not burn.

They were all big men. Some bearded, some not. Some had guns, some did not. Some carried swords and spears. Others hefted heavy sticks.

They came and shouted: “We cannot let God waste his time. We are here to save him from children and butterflies. He is too important for childish thoughts. He has more important things to do. Give him to us.”

They lifted God on their shoulders and marched from my garden, chanting slogans.

And they took him away. From me and my house. From my village and my city. From that day on, nobody has seen my God. Nobody knows where he is, where they took him.

He does not talk to children anymore. He does not talk to us at all. They bring all his orders to us and say: This is what God says. Do it. Those who do not are kicked, beaten, flogged and killed. All in the name of my God!

He has changed so much since they took him that I do not recognise him anymore. He is not the God I loved. He is their God. He no longer speaks the language of butterflies and fireflies. His orders are not that of a loving friend. He talks like earthbound rulers.

I still miss Him a lot. I want the God of butterflies and flowers.

I want to say to him, “O God how much I want you to come down from your heavenly abode and play with me. I want to be a little child again. I want to hold your hand and run with you. Deep into the jungle. And when the jungle scares me, I want to hide in your arms. I want you to stay there, wait for me. Don’t abandon me like others. You are more kind than a mother. And more caring than a father.

I want you to leave all your work aside for one day, just one day. Yes, I know it is important. I know it is you who brings clouds from the sea and makes them rain on the thirsty earth. So that we could smell the mist and the raindrops stir in the dry soil.

It is you who brings the monsoon, holding the reins of the sun, the moon, the stars and the planets in your hands. And change the seasons for your children.

It is you who prevents people from killing each other. You yearn for us to live under the loving care of our friends. It is you who feeds insects hiding under the stone. And give warmth to the poor sitting around the fire.

You also fetch a glass of water for the beggar woman. You fill our dreams with color and light and bring sleep to our burning eyes. You protect the travelers. And save us from our own madness.

Yes you have so many important things to do. But you have always done this and more. Only you know how old this universe is. And how unending your daily chores.

But you also know that my stay here is short. My age is not numbered in solar years. I want to hold your hand and walk in the cruel crowd, holding my head high. So that everybody could see you have dodged your bearded guards. And returned to children and butterflies.

I want to watch them and smile at them. And you, my provider, I don’t want much from you. Just buy me a plate of chickpeas, some oranges and some mangoes (they do not grow in the same season but you get them both for me!).

I also want you to fetch a glass of cold sherbet with crushed ice.

And let me put my head on your shoulders (don’t be upset with me, this is how your children behave). And sleep, a long, long sleep.

And when I do, you quietly close my eyes and take me to the journey that awaits us all. If you are with me, why should I be afraid of any journey?”

The author is a correspondent for Dawn, based in Washington, DC.

Obama Targeting Individuals Who Supply Anti-Facebook Busting Technology to Iran and Syria

Obama seeks to curb Iran, Syria dissident monitoring


U.S. President Barack Obama speaks after touring the Port of Tampa in Florida, April 13, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Laura MacInnis


(Reuters) – President Barack Obama will announce sanctions on Monday on those helping Syria and Iran acquire technology that lets them target dissidents through their cell phone and Internet use.

Social media tools that allowed democracy campaigners to organize rallies across the Middle East and North Africa are being monitored by Tehran and Damascus to “facilitate serious human rights abuses,” an administration official said.

Obama was to unveil the executive order, which he signed on Sunday, in a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The order freezes U.S. assets linked to people found to have aided satellite, computer and phone network monitoring in Syria, where more than 9,000 people have been killed in more than a year in turmoil, as well as Iran, where Washington believes authorities are clamping down on opposition groups.

The order cites the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, the Syrian cell phone company Syriatel, Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces and the Iranian Internet provider Datak Telecom, as well as a number of individuals.

“The United States condemns the continuing campaigns of violence and human rights abuses against the people of Syria and Iran by their governments and provides a tool to hold accountable those who assist in or enable such abuses through the use of information and communications technology,” it read.

The sanctions coincide with reports from Iran on Monday that the country’s main oil export terminal had been hit by a suspected cyber attack affecting the Oil Ministry and national oil company.

The Washington Post reported that Obama would also offer grants to companies to develop alerting tools to make activists aware of dangers of crackdowns or mass killings.

The president’s response to the yearlong violence in Syria as well as Iran’s steps towards nuclear development has been sharply criticized by Republicans during this election year.

Obama, a Democrat, has been emphasizing the potential for a diplomatic resolution to the crises while trying to add pressure on both governments through financial and other sanctions. He was elected in 2008 in large part due to his promise to wind down U.S. military engagement overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.=

(Editing by Doina Chiacu)

Empty Promises of Turkmen Gas for Europe and China’s Prescient Policies

Will Turkmenistan’s resources for the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline?










Innocent Adyasov

Trans-Caspian pipeline project yet, and apparently still long enough to be worn primarily propaganda. The main goal of “Trans-Caspian” – not to conclude the negotiations for the construction of the Russian “South Stream”.

When the actual freezing of the project NABUCCO again quite active (somewhere from mid 2011) began attempts to revive the already half-forgotten (for the first time the idea of such a pipeline was announced back in 1996) Trans-Caspian pipeline project. In March 2012 visit of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to the Ukraine. In Kiev, to the unconcealed delight of the Ukrainian authorities Berdimuhamedov announced the idea of building a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan – Azerbaijan – Georgia (with a possible offshoot of the Ukraine) – Turkey – European Union (EU), to supply gas to Europe, bypassing Russia. Power of the planned pipeline must be up to 25 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year.

Visit to Kiev was preceded by a Turkmen president of the preparatory work for a long time: Ashkhabad and Baku together with EU experts has prepared a road-show to potential investors pipeline. In March 2012 representatives of business circles of the USA expressed their willingness to contribute to the potential the Turkmen authorities to diversify its natural gas exports to the world market and the implementation of projects on construction of new transnational pipelines that would bypass the “northern areas”, that is, bypassing Russian territory. This was discussed at the talks in Washington with members of the Turkmen delegation heads of several leading U.S. oil and gas companies, in particular, such as Chevron, Exon Mobil, Conocophillips.

Notably, before the diplomatic and economic activity of diplomacy between Washington and Brussels on the Turkmen direction was aimed at connecting Ashgabat to the project NABUCCO. However, experts immediately raised the question: Does Turkmenistan have enough resources to provide new gas mega-project? Data on real and proven natural gas reserves in Turkmenistan – perhaps the main and most guarded secret of Ashgabat.Turkmen authorities like to refer to the data of the second stage of a formal independent examination of the British company Gaffney, Cline & Associates. Examination showed that the gas reserves in the country is more than 71.21 trillion tons. Previously, they were estimated at 44.25 trillion. tonnes. Almost half of all gas reserves are concentrated in the South Iolotan field, which is the main resource base for the filling put into operation in 2009 Turkmenistan – Uzbekistan – Kazakhstan – China. Gaffney, Cline & Associates believes South Yolotan second largest gas field in the world, estimating fuel reserves at 26.2 trillion cubic meters. In reliance on this data and taking into account the fact that in 2030 Turkmenistan plans to increase annual oil production to 67 million tons and natural gas – up to 220 billion cubic meters a year, the question of diversification of export routes.However, the findings of the British firms were immediately called into question decided by independent experts.

In addition, it is unclear what investments will be needed for the development of potential gas fields.

Today, Turkmenistan exports its natural gas to Iran, Russia and China. According to data provided by the Government of Turkmenistan for the past 2011 exports of natural gas rose by 75.2 percent. In comparison with the same period in 2010 the growth of production of gas condensate and oil in the country amounted to 107.9 percent, the volume of production of “blue fuel” increased by 42.5 percent. Turkmenistan to Russia in 2011 exported about 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas (in the early to middle of the last decade, exports exceeded 50 billion cubic meters of gas). Such a sharp fall in exports of Turkmen gas to Russia is connected primarily with the increase Ashgabat prices for natural gas to the European average (excluding transit) and a reduction of purchases of natural gas by Ukraine – previously it was mainly supplied with “Gazprom” blue fuel due to re-gas from Turkmenistan . Iran is planning to buy in 2011 in Turkmenistan, about 14 billion cubic meters of gas (there is no exact data on the actual volume of gas exports to Iran in 2011).But the bulk of Turkmen gas exports to China fell.

According to official data, in the Celestial Empire was delivered 17 billion cubic meters of gas exports in 2012 should amount to more than 30 billion cubic meters by 2015 by increasing the capacity of gas pipelines to reach 65 billion cubic meters.

Despite all the assurances of official Ashgabat on putting new deposits, experts believe that exports to China is provided by the volumes of natural gas that was previously on the northern route to Russia. But the question arises about the financial performance of the Turkmen gas exports to China. According to experts, China is paying per thousand cubic meters of gas Ashgabat only 170-180 dollars, a large part of the payments made Chinese goods. As a result, Turkmenistan delivers its gas to China at the lowest compared to other buyers price, and to compensate for financial losses from gas deliveries to Russia, China’s direction can not be. To refuse such a low price for gas supplied in the Celestial Kingdom will not be able Turkmenistan – mining (more accurately maintain production levels in the old), and construction of gas pipelines was carried out on Chinese loans.

Ashgabat, Baku, and the EU when the project starts “Transcaspian” counted on the participation of Kazakhstan in the pipeline. An official invitation from the European Union to participate in the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline Kazakhstan received October 4, 2011 during the VI Eurasian Kazenergy Forum in Astana, voiced by EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger . Almost immediately, the Minister of Oil and Gas of Kazakhstan Mynbayev said that his country does not provide the resources to fill the Trans-Caspian. It is worth noting that earlier thread was supposed to extend a pipeline from Kazakhstan’s Tengiz to the Turkmen Turkmenbashi.

As is the case with Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan’s main exports of natural gas (up to 15 billion cubic meters) will go to China.

Despite the obvious problems with the resource base, the EU continues to support all alternatives to Russian gas pipeline projects from Central Asia and Azerbaijan. Moreover, the project “Transcaspian” is proposed to consider only as part of the NABUCCO project in its broad interpretation. Invented a new, even a new definition – “Southern Corridor” – apparently, as opposed to the “Northern Corridor”, marching through the territory of Russia.”The position of the EU’s Southern Corridor project”” has not changed. We still would like to implement this project as quickly as possible, without delay, “- said the head of the EU Delegation in Azerbaijan Roland Kobia in mid-April.

Referring to negotiations on the legal basis of the implementation of the Trans-Caspian pipeline (as you know, Russia strongly opposed the construction of any pipeline in the Caspian Sea to the determination of his status), Kobia said that negotiations are continuing. “A few weeks ago was the last round, which has been progress. The next round will take place in the next few weeks in Brussels, or perhaps in Vienna. We welcome the participation in the negotiations the two parties – Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan, “- said the diplomat. “We heard about the positive statements of SOCAR, indicate that the construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline – a bilateral issue between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, and it will not create any legal or environmental issues. We believe that this project – the case of the two countries, and no one should interfere in this process.Already there are thousands of kilometers of pipeline in the Caspian Sea, and we do not think that this project will greatly affect the ecology of the Caspian Sea, “- said the representative of the EU. According to Kobia, the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project is part of the NABUCCO and logically included in the definition of “Southern Corridor”.

All of the above facts suggest that the Trans-Caspian pipeline project so far and, apparently, still long enough to be worn primarily propaganda. The main goal of “Trans-Caspian” – not to conclude the negotiations for the construction of the Russian “South Stream”, which should enter the final stage in the summer and autumn of 2012. In the case of the successful launch of the project “South Stream” project on the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline will be possible to put a cross.

Source :: news agency REGNUM

Either Pakistan Moves Against Fake US Terrorism or It Perishes

Rizwan Ghani
The Afghan attacks and prison break in Pakistan is smoke and mirrors. The timing says it all. NATO’s leadership has used it to tell Pakistan to do more. It is being used by the West to justify continuation of Afghan occupation, blame Pakistan for attacks in Afghanistan, set a stage to scapegoat Pakistan for more attacks in Afghanistan, keep NATO troops in the region against the wishes of their pubic, and harness support for the May Chicago Summit. In Pakistan, the government has used it to fast-track resetting of Pak-US relation in the name of the Parliament to maintain dictators pro-west policies. Ironically, Musharraf’s security team hasn’t been changed despite his removal. Afghan attacks have been used to pass EU-US anti-terror data sharing deal allowing transfer of EU personal air passenger data to US. The US Supreme Court also gave legal cover to government contractors for violating constitutional rights of public. The Obama administration supported the case in court. The immunity has no basis in the US Constitution, Bill of Rights (4th Amendment), or the 1871 Civil Rights Act. It will increase victimization of minorities in the US, UK and Europe. The ruling will protect private US contractors operating in Pakistan.

Pakistan should not allow the situation to influence its foreign policy. Keeping in view the history of coordinated attacks in the West, Islamabad should reject international blackmailing based on fake terrorism. On the evening of June 2, 1919, eight bombs exploded in eight different U.S. cities nearly simultaneously. Allegedly it was an inside job to control Communism. Noam Chomsky (BBC interview) said that four US administrations used COINTELPRO (counter intelligence surveillance) program to suppress political dissent (communism), protect capitalism, squash women freedom movements, black movement, and human rights. Its actions went as far as political assassination and it was extremely broad. It is said that when seeking truth look at who benefits. NATO leadership is using the incidents to dictate to Pakistan. The tactics are not local since the incidents have strategic vested stakes. Pakistan therefore needs to resist pressure under Hillary’s call of ‘joint responsibility’ to open NATO supply routes, safe havens and participation in the Chicago summit.

Islamabad should reject the concept of neutral Afghanistan. It is implementation of US ME security doctrine in Asia. The US Afghan policy being dictated to Pakistan will destroy its social, economic and military interests in the region. Pakistan and US can only have equal and long term relations if Islamabad exercises independent foreign policy reflecting the aspirations of the public. The foreign minister of Pakistan should not visit US and Pakistan should put on hold its participation in Chicago Summit. NATO should keep using northern Afghan route to complete its withdrawal. Russia should play its role in ending Afghan occupation. It is only possible if US withdraws its military forces from Afghanistan and respect Pakistan’s rightful role to lead the region in rebuilding Afghanistan. Washington has to end its China centric Asia-pacific policy instead of protecting US interests in the region by sustaining fake terrorism in the region. Islamabad must stand up to the West to build strong Pak-Afghan relations to protect national and regional interests. Beijing and Moscow should also play their role in ending Afghan occupation, using SCO and UN to rebuild Afghanistan. BothWashington and Europe must withdraw all conditions including opening of NATO supplies and allegations of harboring terrorists to build long-term relations with Pakistan.

COINTELPRO is a blueprint of West’s war against Pakistan. There is a need to expose use of fake terror attacks against public, state institutions, media and natural disasters to gain strategic and political advantages. In 1974, a series of bombs exploded in three cities in UK. An inquiry in 1994 showed that it was an inside job (Dublin and Monaghan bombings). The Ripple Effect, a BBC documentary on London bombing, shows that it was an inside job. The UK government has refused to hold public inquiry. Brian Glick, in his book, War at Home, writes that the four main methods used in COINTELPRO were infiltration, psychological warfare, harassment and use of illegal force. Pakistan and its media is being targeted to sell West’s narrative on fake terrorism in the region. The methods also include blocking of judiciaries, selective use of civil law enforcement organizations, use of military courts (US), push for secret courts (UK) and witch hunt of whistleblowers (WikiLeaks) to protect western political, military and intelligence leaders against accountability for crimes against humanity and millions of deaths.

Islamabad should learn from West’s history to end perpetual attacks against Pakistan. Frustrated by Supreme Court’s decisions limiting the Justice Department’s ability to prosecute people for their political opinions, COINTELPRO was used against all those individuals, organizations and institutions that were considered anti-US. The techniques used by the program included creating a negative public image, breaking down of the organization, creating dissent, restricting access to public resources (cut off funding or material support), restricting the ability to organize protests by promoting violence at protests and or restricting the ability of individuals to participate in group activities. The political, economic and state institutions of Pakistan are facing similar challenges.

Obama’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) or ‘Homeland Battle Field Bill’, allowing the indefinite detention of any American without due legal process (charge or trial) anywhere, at any time is a continuation of the COINTELPRO program in US and rest of the world. The lawyer of WikiLeaks founder was stopped from boarding a plane in UK for being on the watch list. A UK based lawyer of Pakistani drone victims was denied US visa to block filing of case against extra judicial killings in US courts. George Galloway, Lord Nazir and jailing of Fai over Kashmir lobbying in US are examples of victimization and harassment to protect British and American leaders from accountability. Reportedly, hundreds of unregistered US NGOs are working in China but Beijing has not put them behind bars. They have been asked to get registered or leave. If US can have Reward for Justice Program, why cannot other countries? The court case against Jack Straw by Libyan rendition and torture victims has exposed the West’s denial of crimes against humanity. The ICJ, the ICC, UN and global human rights organizations should play their role to bring all these criminals to book.

Finally, Afghan attacks and prison break should not be allowed to influence Pakistan’s foreign policy. Islamabad should expose the use of fake terrorism to end West’s blackmailing, protect national interests, end Afghan occupation and restore peace in the region. It is equally important to remove Musharraf era teams and politicians controlling key ministries to allow the transition to democracy. The foreign minister and all other politicians who have been part ot Musharraf team should also go to bring an end to continuation of dictators policies under NRO deal. Egypt has banned Mubarak’s team members from politics.

Teaching Intolerance To A New Generation of Radicalized Saudis

[SEE:  In the Land of Al-Qaeda It Is Dangerous To Ignore 4-Year Olds Making Demands]

Teaching Intolerance

You should see what even first graders have to read in Saudi Arabia.


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — In the years just before the 9/11 attacks, I spent two semesters at a public school in Riyadh for my training as a teacher. I was stationed each day at the campus gates, instructed to inspect the girls’ abayas as they left school. For each student older than 12, I checked: Was she wearing the tent-style cloak over her head and down to her ankles? Was her face fully covered, no slits for her eyes? I felt like a hypocrite, penalizing girls for violating a custom I don’t support — and one that the majority of Islamic scholars say is not a religious obligation.

The mandate was and still is part of the government-issued curriculum taught in Saudi public schools; it was in their textbooks that the girls were told they should cover their faces in order to be good Muslim women.

Much is made about the role of Islam in Arab societies — how different interpretations of the Quran can shape laws and conventions. But less often do we consider how these interpretations reach our children: at school and, ultimately, in the textbooks they read. Since Saudi Arabia’s first national textbooks were issued in 1937, the controversies they have inspired have mirrored the country’s most fundamental debates — about religion, the treatment of women, the influence of the West. Over time, textbooks have become instruments of the country’s religious conservatives, replete with calls to jihad and denunciations of non-Muslims. Yet despite periodic reform efforts, and even though these efforts have escalated amid the global outrage that followed 9/11, in many ways the books remain stubbornly impervious to change. Even in the past two years, they have instructed first graders not to greet infidels and warned 10th graders of the West’s threat to Islam.

The Saudi education system wasn’t always destined for orthodoxy. King Abdulaziz, the kingdom’s founder, established the precursor to today’s Education Ministry in 1925, seven years before officially founding the country in 1932. The first national textbooks were heavily influenced by Egyptian and Lebanese curricula, and their chief author, the researcher Omar Abduljabbar, was considered a progressive, opening one of Saudi Arabia’s first private girls’ schools at a time when only boys could attend public schools.

By the 1950s, however, religious ultraconservatives had begun putting down roots in the Education Ministry. Despite the ministry’s efforts to recruit members of the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt and Syria, who were seen as proponents of a more liberal form of Islam, the more powerful Saudi religious establishment ensured that textbooks and school policies would become more intolerant and conservative, which the government’s 1968 educational policy document solidified formally. In the following decades, those brave enough to criticize the government-mandated curriculum were scarce if not nonexistent. Saudis who were unhappy with the public education system could send their children abroad; even private Saudi schools were (and still are) required to teach Arabic and the government’s religious curriculum.

Things went on this way with few changes until 15 of the 19 hijackers responsible for the 9/11 attacks were revealed to have been Saudis. Suddenly, outsiders began asking questions and pointing fingers, wondering what exactly was being taught in our schools. A 2002 Boston Globe report, for instance, bearing the headline “Saudi Schools Fuel Anti-U.S. Anger,” quoted inflammatory passages from a government textbook, such as, “The hour will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews, and Muslims will kill all the Jews.” Saudis, too, began to reconsider: What kind of messages were we teaching our children?

The question was blown wide open in 2006 with the publication of a Freedom House report titled “Saudi Arabia’s Curriculum of Intolerance,” which was translated into Arabic and published in the local newspaper Al-Watan. The report analyzed 12 Islamic-studies textbooks, concluding that “the Saudi public school religious curriculum continues to propagate an ideology of hate toward the ‘unbeliever'” — most egregiously in a 12th-grade text that instructed students to wage violent jihad against infidels to “spread the faith.” Many Saudis bristled at a foreign organization meddling in their internal affairs, but the findings managed to rekindle the debate about Saudi education. The pages of Saudi schoolbooks were finally submitted to a new, unfamiliar scrutiny — not just from outsiders but also from Saudis themselves.

The Education Ministry responded to the criticism, appearing to commit itself to reform byrelegating 2,000 teachers it deemed extremists to administrative roles far from the classroom. The ministry also instructed principals to report anyone preaching extremism.

Yet textbooks remained largely untouched, with only the most explicitly intolerant material removed. Now and then a journalist today picks up one of the government-issued schoolbooks only to find that extremism has sneaked back into Saudi schools.

In the 2010-2011 academic year, the new first-grade jurisprudence book (yes, “Islamic jurisprudence” is taught in the first grade, along with a subject called “monotheism”) condemnedsaying hello to non-Muslims. The lesson was presented as a dialogue between a teacher and a student named Ahmed. Ahmed asks, “Should I say hello to people I don’t know?” The teacher replies, “Yes, you say hello to Muslims you know and Muslims you don’t know.” The news caused an uproar in the Saudi media that prompted the Education Ministry to recall the books and remove the offensive portion. But the new copies suspiciously omitted the names of the book’s authors, replacing them with the phrase “Authored and revised by a team of experts.” Among the book’s creators had been Sheikh Yusuf al-Ahmad, known for suggesting that the Grand Mosque in Mecca be rebuilt to ensure complete gender segregation and for calling for a boycott against supermarkets that planned to employ female cashiers. (The sheikh is currently in prison for speaking out against the government’s practice of imprisoning political dissidents indefinitely and without charge.)

Just last year, new interpretations were introduced in the boys’ 10th-grade hadith, the book of the Prophet Mohammed’s sayings and traditions. (Ever since a 1958 royal decree that allowed Saudi girls to attend public schools, boys and girls have been required to use different textbooks.) The move seemed progressive on the surface: The new subjects included human rights, Westernization, globalization, and international scholarships — but under these headings lay more propaganda. Westernization, for instance, was described (in a mouthful) as a policy “exerted by the dominant forces by tools such as the Security Council and the United Nations in order to implement Westernization strategies in poor countries, especially Islamic nations, under the slogans of reform, democracy, pluralism, liberalism, and human rights, particularly with regard to women and religious minorities.” The book also warned that by obtaining an education in the West, Saudi students were at risk of adopting beliefs, values, and behaviors at odds with Islam.

The hadith additions were widely thought to be an underhanded way of criticizing Saudi King Abdullah’s scholarship program, which since 2005 has funded 130,000 Saudi students to study in countries such as Australia, Britain, Canada, and the United States. That such anti-Western language made it into the hadiths proves how embedded Saudi ultraconservatives are in the Education Ministry — they were able to modify textbooks even against official national programs.

The Education Ministry ultimately held its ground, revising the textbooks to exclude the intolerant subject matter. Still, teaching extremism is only one facet of a much larger, more persistent problem. In a 2009 study on education reform in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh-based researcher Ahmed al-Eissa found that the lion’s share of the average male Saudi student’s class time — about 30 percent — is still in religion. It’s no wonder then that Saudi Arabia ranks so poorly in other core academic subjects. In the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, published by the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics, only Ghana and Qatar fared worse than Saudi Arabia in eighth-grade math scores across 48 countries. In science, Saudi students only performed better thanthose in Ghana, Qatar, Botswana, and El Salvador.

A study published last year by religious scholar Abdulaziz al-Qasim found that Saudi religion textbooks “have focused far too much on the lowest educational and skill objectives, such as rote memorization and classification, and neglected entirely the objectives of analysis, problem-solving, and critical thinking,” leading to “passiveness and negativity.” But Eissa’s 2009 study noted that there is widespread refusal within the Education Ministry even to acknowledge the need for an overhaul.

It has been more than a decade since the Education Ministry began working on a plan to address these problems. Known as the Comprehensive Curricula Development Project, it is expected to be implemented across the kingdom in the next year, according to its website. Yet, if one reads the project’s mission statement for religious textbooks, it is difficult to be optimistic. It calls for the books to require that “the learner grasp his membership and loyalty to Islam and derive all his affairs within it and renounce all that goes against it,” as well as to “protect himself in facing deviant sects, creeds, false interpretations of sharia with reason, evidence, and politeness.” Nowhere in the statement’s 28 points is there any mention of tolerance or peace. Somehow “time management,” No. 28, is a bigger priority.

Even if the ministry’s changes materialize, education reform in Saudi Arabia is not simply a matter of revising textbooks. It’s a matter of changing the minds of whole generations. Saudis who were taught to believe a very narrow interpretation of Islam are now foisting it onto millions more students. They will have to determine a way forward — but they won’t find the answer in their textbooks.

In the Land of Al-Qaeda It Is Dangerous To Ignore 4-Year Olds Making Demands

Saudi boy, 4, kills father over PlayStation: report

RIYADH: An angry four-year-old Saudi boy shot and killed his father for refusing to buy him a PlayStation, Saudi media reported on Monday.

The Asharq daily, citing police in the southern Jizan area, said the child, aged four years and seven months, grabbed his father’s pistol and shot him in the head.

According to the newspaper, the child had asked his father to buy him a PlayStation and the shooting took place after the man returned home without the desired object.

As he was undressing, the man put the weapon down, which the child then grabbed and fired at him from close range.

– AFP/cc

New Trump Towers To Be Built In Tbilisi, Georgia

Trump to build luxury apartments on Georgian Black Sea coast

This is how Trump Tower Batumi with adjacent marina is expected to look like according to the project’s master plan by New York-based architecture firm John Fotiadis Architect.–Civil Georgia,

By Khatia Psuturi, AP

U.S. business magnate Donald Trump, accompanied by Tbilisi mayor Gigi Ugulava, left, tours a medieval fortress in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Saturday.

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — U.S. real estate mogul Donald Trump has joined Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili in unveiling plans to build a luxury apartment complex along the Black Sea coast.

The 47-story Trump Tower in Batumi is to be built by the Silk Road Group under a licensing agreement signed inNew York last year.

Saakashvili said during Sunday’s presentation in Batumi that the Georgian conglomerate expects to have the necessary funding by the end of this year, with construction slated to start in early 2013.

In welcoming Trump, Economy Minister Vera Kobalia said the project would encourage more foreign investment.

Saakashvili oversaw steady economic growth after becoming president in 2004, but the economy was hit in recent years by the global downturn and repercussions from the 2008 war with Russia.

Imperialism writes a new political geography

Imperialism writes a new political geography

by  Jayatilleke de Silva


Imperialism writes a new political geography

Imperialism, Lenin said, is moribund capitalism. Nevertheless it retains its ruthless character. Outlining the principal characteristics of imperialism he spoke of the political and economic re-division of the World among various imperialist powers.

The aftermath of the Second World War saw the birth of two new phenomena. One was the expansion of the socialist system into all continents. The second was the victory of national liberation revolutions in almost all the colonies.
A new political geography was born. Imperialism never agreed with it and worked day and night without a respite to change it. By the middle of the 1990’s, it had accomplished one objective. That was rolling Communism back. The system of socialist states collapsed with the demise of the Soviet Union and European socialist states. This was not through war but by other means. It is not our intention here to debate whether it was due to imperialist manipulations and subversion or an implosion caused by mistakes of the rulers or both.

The attainment of the second objective was also very important for imperialism. It was the change of regimes in newly independent countries to carry on their earlier exploitation by new means. In other words, imperialism wanted to guarantee unfettered neo-colonial exploitation of the former colonies. If this was not possible due to rulers’ anti-imperialist positions, then regime change was considered as a legitimate exercise disregarding international norms of conduct. No means were spared, including covert and overt war.

Looking back a little over a decade, we see that the Middle East has been the area, which has earned the attention of imperialism to achieve this change. No wonder, since it contains the bulk of the world’s oil resources. Beginning with Iraq, regime change has been accomplished in several countries in the region by war. All these wars have been conducted either through the aegis of the United Nations or through coalitions of the willing comprising the United States and its NATO and other allies.
In this they have ignored the United Nations and International Law and resorted more and more to what is termed as R2P or Right to Protect, a policy, which authorizes external intervention in other countries under the pretext of safeguarding human rights. Thus Iraq was invaded to prevent it using ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ though no such weapons were found despite massive bombings and search operations. In Libya too it was the same pretext. The same methodology is being in operation in Syria and Iran.

War is not the only means used. Actually it is the finale in a series of operations beginning with disinformation, covert operations including the use of special forces deep inside the targeted countries and the use of fifth columns.
While President George W. Bush openly declared his intention of confronting by force some several dozen nations who were considered hostile, President Barack Obama promised a different approach of using American soft power to re-write international relations and earn the goodwill of the World to the United States. However, he has used both soft power and hard power to attain the same objectives.

It is also important to see that under President Obama, the United States have been using its NATO allies and friendly regimes in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members in its programme of regime change in selected countries.
For the same purposes it has also used all available means to contain the Arab Spring or the movement of mass uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere. The United States have carried out a differentiated approach in the countries affected by the Arab Spring. While it went to open war in Iraq and did the same in Libya in a slightly different manner, it used the GCC in Bahrain and Yemen.

It is also important to understand the role played by the media in these operations. Media was an effective weapon in building up support for utilizing the R2P policy. The media monopoly in the service of imperialism was used shamelessly to spread absolute falsehoods. For example it said that Government forces in Libya bombed civilians but could not substantiate the charge despite visuals shown in TV. The same disinformation campaign is carried out now in Syria. Often bombings by Opposition forces are unreported or blamed on the Governments. Once the media spreads the lie, it is easy to legitimize aggression or intervention.

The principle of State sovereignty is undermined, and international law trampled under the heavy boots of imperialism. The result is a new political geography, one written again by imperialism. So far it is only North Africa and the Middle East. Other regions will also be not spared in future.

Western allies of MI6 ‘kept in dark’ over mosque sting plan

[Here, in a nutshell, we have an offhand explanation of the “al-Qaeda” phenomenon, as an idea that is hatched within the twisted minds of intelligence agencies and eventually matured into actual “Islamist” terrorists.  We have previously tried to explain the term “al-Qaeda” at various times, as a “database,” a terrorist cell of several thousand “Afghan Arabs,” or even as a non-entity, used as cover for covert spy actions.  The following admissions about previously disguised spy agency actions and interactions with known terrorists, reveal that the “Qaeda” has always been a work in progress.  If you speak about Qaeda, you must first be speaking to individuals who have a minimum idea about what Qaeda is, or they will not understand the connections between “good guys” and “bad guys.”   There could be no terrorist bad guys without some good guys standing behind them, handing them the explosives and the guns.

Behind every facade you will find that Qaeda is a contract, a meeting of minds between terrorists and their state sponsors and the paying of some sort of commission to ensure the fulfillment of that contract to commit terror against the “other side.”  Before the meeting of minds can take place, there must first be some sort of recruitment process, to locate extremists of the proper mindset.  That is exactly the process which is explained in the following article.  In this case, MI6 set-up a mosque to attract N. African extremists, where they connected with Libyan intelligence and N. African extremists who were recruited into “al-Q in Iraq,” from which they were later recruited to carry-out part of the “Qaeda” operation against Libya (who knows whether those called Qaeda in Libya were actually radical recruits or intelligence agents).  This information comes from documents recovered from Libyan govt. files, which related the recruitment facts quoted in the London Telegraph report.  The so-called “al-Qaeda” suspects described in the report never worked for bin Laden.   The military training and equipment which they received came from state sponsors.  

The US, Britain and all allied intelligence agencies create Qaeda in order to have someone to wage war against.]  

Western allies of MI6 ‘kept in dark’ over mosque sting plan

MI6 and Col Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan intelligence service set up a radical mosque in a Western European city in order to lure in al-Qaeda terrorists, it can be revealed.

MI6 and Col Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan intelligence service set up a radical mosque in a Western European city in order to lure in al-Qaeda terrorists, it can be revealed.

Britain was encouraging Col Gaddafi to give up plans for weapons of mass destruction Photo: ALAMY

By , Investigations Editor

The joint operation, which was undertaken as Britain attempted to secure a deal with Col Gaddafi to reopen diplomatic relations, shows how closely Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service was prepared to work with his regime’s spies despite widespread allegations of human rights abuses.

At the time, Britain was encouraging Col Gaddafi to give up plans for weapons of mass destruction. Four months later, the dictator and Tony Blair, then prime minister, struck the 2004 “deal in the desert” which ended Libya’s pariah status.

The cooperation extended to recruiting an agent to infiltrate an al-Qaeda terrorist cell in the Western European city, which cannot be named for security reasons.

The double agent, codenamed Joseph, was closely connected to a senior al-Qaeda commander in Iraq and had been identified as a possible spy by the ESO, Libya’s external intelligence service, on a visit to Tripoli.

MI6 began recruiting the agent without telling its allies in the European country where he lived.

The agency agreed a narrative with the agent and the ESO to fool their allies about when and how the agent had been recruited and the operation launched.

Documents seen by The Sunday Telegraph, which were sent from MI6 headquarters in London to Moussa Koussa, the Libyan intelligence chief, give a detailed outline of this subterfuge, the agent’s recruitment and plans for the operation. The papers were left behind in Tripoli as Col Gaddafi’s regime crumbled.

The plan raises questions about the SIS, MI6’s close links with the Libyan regime and whether it was acting on government orders.

Last week it was disclosed that Jack Straw, the then foreign secretary, is facing legal action over claims he signed off the rendition to Tripoli in March 2004 of an alleged Libyan terrorist leader accused of links to Osama bin Laden, claims that had been previously denied in Parliament.

But now it can be disclosed that secret anti-terrorist operations in Europe involving MI6 and Libyan intelligence began four months earlier with a series of meetings in the UK.

In December 2003, “Joseph” and a Libyan intelligence officer were flown to meetings at British hotels to discuss setting up a mosque to attract North African Islamic extremists.

They hoped to gain “information on terrorist planning”. MI6 paid for one Libyan intelligence officer, who had previously worked under diplomatic cover in the UK, to stay in a five-star central London hotel and smoothed his passage through immigration at Heathrow to “avoid the problems he experienced on his previous visit”.

A secret memo sent to Libyan intelligence in Tripoli details an early meeting with the apparently reluctant new agent in a city in the north of England.

“Our meeting in the UK on this occasion was to explore further with ‘Joseph’ just what he might be prepared to do,” it said.

Headed “Greetings from MI6 London” it says: “ ’Joseph’ was nervous. He had had a paranoid walk to the hotel across [UK city] with too much eye contact from passers-by that had unduly unnerved him.

“We reassured him by going over the cover story we had discussed when we met in Tripoli. We would not be seen together in public but, in the unlikely event that anyone saw us in the hotel, I would simply be his business contact. Furthermore, there was no link between the hotel booking and MI6.

“ ’Joseph’ agreed to work with SIS but still required reassurance. A second meeting took place a few days later when MI6 and Libyan officers met ‘Joseph’ at one five-star hotel and then travelled in separate taxis to” a second hotel to ensure they were not being watched.

The memo adds: “We told ‘Joseph’ that under no circumstances was he to tell the [European intelligence service of country where he lived and was planning to operate] of his involvement with us and the Libyans. We would do this when we were ready.”

The agent had, the note says, already been approached by this Western intelligence service but he was told to “stall his meeting” with them.

A strategy was agreed to keep the other Western intelligence service in the dark about the full extent of their contact with the agent.

It added that MI6’s allies would later be told the agent had been recruited “as a result of our ongoing counter terrorism relationship with ESO, [and we] sought to capitalise on the relationship struck up with ‘Joseph’.”

The operation was run behind the backs of Western allies in the chosen city. Critics are likely to question whether it could have backfired, with a terrorist cell launching an attack using the mosque as a base.

The disclosures come in the wake of the accusation that Mr Straw gave the green light to the plan to seize Abdelhakim Belhadj, one of the military commanders who helped to overthrow Gaddafi’s regime last year, and his pregnant wife and put them on a CIA flight.

Secret documents outlining the rendition plan, published by The Sunday Telegraph last February, showed how MI6 tipped off Libya that Mr Belhadj was being held by immigration officials in Malaysia and that the secret CIA flight was scheduled to refuel at an airbase on Diego Garcia, a British sovereign territory in the Indian Ocean.

Once Mr Belhadj was in custody in Libya, Sir Mark Allen, MI6’s then counter terrorism chief, sent a letter to Mr Koussa, saying: “This was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built.”

The evidence contradicted government statements denying British involvements in renditions. Last week Mr Belhadj’s lawyers said they had issued legal proceedings against Colin Roberts, the Foreign Office official responsible for Diego Garcia.

U.S. and Afghanistan Reach Partnership Agreement

U.S. and Afghanistan Reach Partnership Agreement


KABUL, Afghanistan   — After months of negotiations, the United States and Afghanistan on Sunday finalized drafts of the strategic partnership agreement that pledges American support for Afghanistan for 10 years after the withdrawal of troops at the end of 2014.

The United States Ambassador, Ryan C. Crocker, and Afghanistan’s national security adviser, Rangin Spanta, agreed on the wording of the draft, which will now be sent to President Hamid Karzai and to the Afghan Parliament for review and approval before it is signed by the presidents of the both countries, according to American and Afghan officials.

“We believe we have a final text which will be  presented to the president and also presented to Parliament for final consultation and approval before the signature by the two presidents,” said an Afghan official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official did not have permission to speak to the media.

“It covers the broad spectrum of the existing, broad-based, comprehensive partnership between the two countries with the view towards sustaining that for at least another decade beyond the end of transition in 2014,” the official said.

The document outlines the two countries future relationship rather than specifying exact amounts of support or programs, but officials from both countries have said they hope that it will send a signal to insurgents and other destabilizing forces here that the United States is not going to abandon Afghanistan as it did in the 1990s after the Soviets were driven out.  Rather American will continue to support the country in many areas.

Negotiations on the document started more than nine months ago but were delayed repeatedly over the sensitive issues of night raids by American troops and the American operation of detention facilities.

Ultimately negotiators agreed to craft detailed separate agreements on those two issues and signed a memorandum of understanding on the transfer of detention operations to the Afghan government in March and in April signed a companion memorandum handing final authority on night raids to Afghan security forces, who are now carrying out all raids unless American assistance is requested.

With those two issues completed, finalizing the strategic partnership moved quickly.  The document promises American economic development support for Afghanistan, help in fields like agriculture and education as well as security.  It does not include any specific commitment of foreign aid because that amount must be authorized and appropriated by the Congress and can not be committed by the executive branch.

However, the United States is already anticipating that it will make a substantial contribution toward paying for Afghanistan’s security forces beyond 2014 and is searching for contributions from its NATO partners. The amount is not settled but a figure of $2.7 billion a year has been under discussion.  There would be additional foreign aid for civilian fields.

At some point, a security agreement will detail if and under what circumstances American troops will be positioned in the country in the post-2014 period, according to senior American officials.

Anxious to keep lid on Iraq, Obama woos Kurds

Anxious to keep lid on Iraq, Obama woos Kurds

 By Alister Bull

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama, facing a damaging election-year problem if Iraq’s political crisis worsens, has launched an urgent behind-the-scenes push to ease tensions between the Baghdad central government and the Kurds.

Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurds’ semi-autonomous regional government, paid a quiet visit to the White House on April 4 and left with backing for two long-standing requests that could help build the worried Kurds’ confidence in U.S. support.

Barzani’s heated criticism last month of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has fanned concern the country could splinter, potentially setting off a fresh civil war.

Reuters has learned that to demonstrate U.S. support, the White House and Congress agreed to lift a designation that treats Kurdistan’s two main political parties as if they were terrorist groups, complicating members’ travel to the United States. In addition, the U.S. consulate in Arbil will begin issuing U.S. visas before the end of 2012.

Since withdrawing the last U.S. troops in December, Obama has, at least publicly, put little focus on Iraq, and critics view the latest gestures as not much more than damage control.

But Obama still has a lot at stake in Iraq. If violence explodes, it could tarnish Obama’s bragging rights with U.S. voters for concluding the unpopular war.

And worsening relations between the Shi’ite-led central government and semi-autonomous Kurdistan could thwart White House efforts to lower gasoline prices. The Kurds halted oil exports to Baghdad on April 1, citing a payment dispute.


Barzani last month delivered a sharp denunciation of Maliki’s government and suggested he could seek a referendum of some kind on the Kurdish region’s relations with Baghdad – although he stopped far short of breaking a taboo by making explicit reference to independence.

Analysts say the probability of the Kurds declaring independence is low, although not zero.

“If Kurds were to declare independence in the near term there is a very high likelihood that that would provoke a war with Baghdad,” said Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst.

The White House promises to the Kurdish president “constitute useful takeaways for Barzani but they are probably about the absolute minimum that he would have found acceptable,” said Pollack, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

The goal of the Washington meetings in early April, both the White House and the Kurds said, was to re-commit to a relationship that both value. Obama dropped in on one of the meetings Vice President Joe Biden hosted for Barzani that day.

Biden assured Barzani of U.S. backing for the Kurds, but he also cautioned that Washington could not pick sides between Kurdistan and Baghdad, a senior administration official said.

“Neither relationship can come at the expense of the other relationship,” the official said. “A red line for us is that all this must be done in a way that is consistent with the (Iraqi) constitution.”


Iraq boasts some of the world’s largest oil reserves and could provide essential extra production capacity to help stabilize world oil markets, at a moment when gasoline prices are one of the most pressing issues for U.S. voters.

And while foreign policy hasn’t yet been a major factor in the U.S. presidential campaign, both parties are likely to sharpen their focus on it ahead of the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s killing by U.S. commandos on May 2.

Qubad Talabani, son of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the representative for the Kurdistan Regional Government in Washington, said the Kurdish delegation was happy with Biden’s words of support to Barzani.

“The reaffirmation of the commitment to Kurdistan and the Kurdish people went down very well,” he said.

“For us, we’re naturally an insecure people, and given the history that we’ve had, we’re expecting at some point or another to be let down again,” he said.

The Kurds, severely persecuted under late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, have become increasingly nervous since U.S. troops left.

Indeed, the troop departure was followed almost immediately by a political crisis sparked by Maliki’s demand for the arrest of a Sunni Muslim vice president, who fled to Kurdistan, where Barzani defied the prime minister by granting him shelter.


Critics of Obama’s Iraq policy complain that the White House is primarily concerned on keeping a lid on events until after the November 6 U.S. election.

“I think the administration is of the mind-set of ‘see no evil, hear no evil’ and it wants Iraq to be invisible for the political debate in the United States,” said Ned Parker, a visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

To encourage the Kurds to remain within Iraq’s political process, the administration is bowing to their long-standing plea to amend the status of the main political parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, members of the groups are deemed to be engaged in terrorist activity.

This is not as severe as being designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. But it means that members of these organizations must get a government exemption to visit or stay in the United States.

An aide to Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said Lieberman was working on legislation to remove the designation.

In addition, the U.S. decision to begin issuing visas from its consulate in Arbil from the end of 2012 will save Kurds who want to visit the United States the expense and hazard of journeying to Baghdad to get a visa or traveling to a U.S. consulate outside of Iraq.

State Department spokesman Michael Lavallee confirmed this move, which had been long sought by the Kurds, but stressed in a statement that it was part of a broader effort to “work with the government of Iraq to continue to normalize our consular services throughout the country.”


U.S. officials also offered to help the Kurds in talks with Baghdad to resolve the oil payments dispute and get the exports flowing once again, the Kurds said.

The amounts involved are modest – around 50,000 barrels per day from Kurdistan compared with Iraq’s national output of some 2.6 million barrels, according to published 2011 estimates by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

But the dispute highlights the country’s ongoing failure to agree to a national oil law, potentially dampening the willingness of big foreign oil firms to make the investments necessary to exploit these resources.

The Kurds currently have no independent export route for their oil outside of the central government.

“They have a lot of potential,” said Ben Lando of the Iraq Oil Report. “There are substantial oil and gas reserves but there has not been a qualified number put on that and in many places exploration is still ongoing.”

(Editing By Warren Strobel and Eric Beech)

© Copyright 2012, Reuters

How Afghanistan Is Bringing Out Our Worst Side

How Afghanistan Is Bringing Out Our Worst Side

You know, I’ve never been to Afghanistan. I’ve never been in a firefight anywhere, although I have had a gun pointed at me, which is as close as I care to come, thank you very much.

But from some of the reporting coming out of there – such as Sebastian Junger’s harrowing book “War” and the accompanying documentary “Restrepo” – Afghanistan is to stress, fear and paranoia what Mount Everest is to rock formations. And it seems like we can’t go a month now without hearing about some of our soldiers (almost all of whom have been through multiple deployments) who have completely lost it under the stress.

From the Marine snipers photographed urinating on enemy corpses to the soldier who walked out of camp one night and started slaughtering civilians to the recently released photos of American troops posing with body parts and corpses, it’s just one image after another that makes you wonder if maybe we’ve finally stressed our military past its breaking point.

Now, desecrating the bodies of fallen enemies is not a new phenomenon by any means. In “The Iliad,” Homer describes how Achilles, maddened with grief by the death of his best friend, Patroclus, killed Hector, the Trojan crown prince responsible, then desecrated Hector’s body by dragging it behind his chariot for nine days during Patroclus’ funeral feast.

In the 15th century, the Wallachian prince known as Vlad the Impaler (later the inspiration for the blood-drinking Count Dracula) became well known for desecrating the bodies of vanquished enemies, mainly by sticking the bodies (and more than a few live prisoners) onto pointed stakes and leaving them for the invading Turks to find.

In the harrowing World War II memoir “With the Old Breed,” Marine John Sledge describes the mutilation of American corpses by the Japanese on the islands of Peleliu and Okinawa – and the corresponding looting (particularly of gold teeth) and taking of other “trophies” from dead Japanese by our own people. And so on.

What does seem to be new is the idea, particularly among the right, that this is either (a) no big deal or (b) actually a good thing.

Homer describes how Achilles repented from his act and returned Hector’s body after being confronted by Hector’s weeping father, King Priam, not to mention getting a stern warning from Zeus himself that he was “tempting the wrath of heaven” by his act of disrespect to a dead enemy.

Sledge describes how he was dissuaded from the act of stealing the gold teeth from a dead Japanese soldier by his friend, corpsman “Doc” Caswell, who admonishes him, “You don’t want to do that. What would your folks think?” And Vlad … well, as noted above, his major claim to fame is as the inspiration for one of literature’s greatest monsters.

In contrast, when those pictures surfaced of Marine snipers urinating on dead Taliban fighters, conservative radio host Dana Loesch turned gushing fangirl: “I’d drop trou and do it too. That’s me, though. I want a million cool points for these guys.” Anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller tweeted, “I don’t CAIR that these Marines wee wee’ed on murderous savages” (CAIR being the acronym for one of Geller’s favorite bogeymen, the Council on American Islamic Relations).

Fox commentator Ralph Peters went on the air nearly apoplectic with rage about how the recent photos of soldiers with dead and dismembered enemies were being used by people – including, according to Peters, their own commanders – to “trash our troops.”

I look at those images of young Americans, truly our best and brightest, behaving this way, and my heart breaks for them. I don’t know if they’ll ever make it back to sanity from that. I don’t know if any person could.

Then I think of the passage from Sledge’s book where he talks about Doc Caswell, the man who dissuaded him from desecrating enemy bodies: “He was a good friend and a fine, genuine person whose sensitivity hadn’t been crushed out by the war. He was merely trying to help me retain some of mine and not become completely callous and harsh.”

I compare that with the “callous and harsh” and downright barbaric statements from some of the Chairborne Rangers of 24-hour news TV and I wonder if we, as a country, will ever make it back from the abyss they’re pushing us toward.

Dusty Rhoades lives, writes and practices law in Carthage. Contact him at dustyr@nc.rr.com

Brinkley: Afghan war success ‘political fiction’

Joel Brinkley

San Francisco Chronicle

A US soldier (L) and an Afghan policeman (R) stand outsid... Sabawoon Amarkhil / AFP/Getty Images

Sabawoon Amarkhil / AFP/Getty Images

A U.S. soldier (left) and an Afghan policeman patrol a building Monday that Taliban fighters, some disguised in burqas, used to launch an attack.

American support for the Afghan war has collapsed. Several new surveys show that even most Republicans, from the party that is home to the nation’s hawks, now oppose the 10-year-old conflict. And it’s no wonder. The U.S. military has been deceiving the nation for years.

Listen to Army Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, who spent the past year working in Afghanistan.

“I covered more than 9,000 miles and talked, traveled and patrolled with troops” across the nation, he wrote in the Armed Forces Journal last month. “What I saw bore no resemblance to the rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.” Instead, he added, “I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.”

Not surprisingly, his is a dissenting voice in the U.S. military. But the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, representing hundreds of nongovernmental organizations working there, offered similar observations in its most recent status report. The number of violent incidents they counted from their stations in almost every province was 14 percent higher last year than in 2010, while the official military count showed a 3 percent decline.

“We find their suggestion that the insurgency is waning to be dangerous political fiction,” the report said.

In fact, attacks on the NGOs themselves increased by 20 percent. Compare that to the saccharine quote a Pentagon spokesman offered just after 40 people died in protests over the accidental burning of those Qurans on a U.S. base in late February.

Senior officers “believe we have achieved significant progress in reversing the Taliban’s momentum and in developing the Afghan security forces,” he said. A few weeks later, a NATO-trained Afghan soldier shot and killed two British troops, and on the same day a police officer killed a NATO soldier. That brought the total number of Western forces that Afghan soldiers have killed – green on blue killings, as they’re now called – to 80.

As a result, the Afghan National Security Directorate is sending intelligence officers to infiltrate its own military and spy on the soldiers to ensure they are not Taliban traitors intent on killing Western allies. The army also ordered all of its several thousand soldiers whose homes and families are in Pakistan to move to Afghanistan or leave the force – understandably afraid they are likely traitors.

But then there’s a question about how competent those efforts will be.

“There is a systematic level of incompetence inside the Ministry of Defense that has gone on for so long that it has become a culture,” Andrew Mackay, a British major general, told the Sunday Telegraph. He, too, just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

For example, the ministry hasn’t been able – or willing – to stop Afghan Air Force pilots, flying aircraft paid for by the United States, from using them for drug-trafficking flights. And no one has explained why nearly a dozen fully armed suicide vests were found inside the ministry building late last month.

All of this and more has led 66 percent of Americans to decide that the war is no longer worth fighting, a new Washington Post-ABC News survey found. Late last month, a New York Times-CBS News poll came to a similar conclusion: 69 percent said they believed the United States should end the war. Other surveys, by Gallup, the Pew Research Center and others, offered consistent findings.

That leaves Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney facing a quandary, particularly because most people in his own party now oppose the war. He has repeatedly said the nation’s goal should be to defeat the Taliban on the battlefield.

No one knows what finally pushed so many Americans to turn decisively against the war. Perhaps some of them heard Lt. Col. Davis on “Democracy Now” radio, saying: “Senior ranking U.S. military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the U.S. Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable.”

One major problem is that measuring success in this war is virtually impossible. What are the metrics? Unfortunately, that has led to a resumption of the much-maligned “body count” strategy – counting insurgent attacks and enemy dead.

Western forces have become “hopelessly mired in body count as a measure of success,” Mackay said. “The history of Vietnam tells us that’s a terrible way of doing it. But we’ve still gotten into: ‘Oh, we’ve killed 300 Taliban on this tour.’ ”

As the NGO report put it, “The only coherent strategy the international community ever had in Afghanistan was the one to leave.”

© 2012 Joel Brinkley Joel Brinkley, a professor of journalism at Stanford University, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former foreign correspondent for the New York Times. To comment, go to sfgate.com/chronicle/submissions/#1.

Adnan Rashid’s Facebook Rebuttal of Charges Against Him

[This is another case where it is hard to find info on, other than the official lies put-out there by the aggrieved military leadership.  One thing is clear, there were many militants who started-out as PAF airmen and officers.]

by Stop hanging of 12 innocent Prisoners (SOS!) on Monday, April 18, 2011

CIVILIANS can express their sentiments through demonstrations protest congregations and press conferences. But being Armed Forces personnel even delay or relent in complying with an order is an offence. You have no choice; you have to do or die and are not supposed to ask “why”?

The controversial war on terror which was joined by one of history’s most notorious despot and venal General without consensus of the nation spread anger and resentment in armed forces as well as across the nation.

The ironic curtain of Armed Forces never leak any news of its defamation. There were some of the patriots in PAF who never welcomed the NATO and US forces at the PAF Air Bases. Who could not help expressing their sentiments? They denied guarding alien aircrafts. They become the forthright critics of  Parvaiz Musharraf’s anti-Islamic and anti-Pakistan policies. They voted “No” in a referendum of 2002 considering it a way to save Pakistan’s ideology.

Such types of their actions infuriated the loyals of despots in Secret Services, and then what happened?

They were subjected to disappearances from their duty places by Special Investigation Branch (SIB). In habeas corpus, they faced humiliation brutal and barbaric torture and coercive interrogation tactics such as forced nudity, beating, flogging, sleep deprivation etc. by perverted torturers. One corporal Hashmat Kohat of Risalpur Airbase lost his life while suffering torture in PAF custody at AHQ Islamabad.

For obtaining confessional statements of uncommitted crimes they were brutally beaten into submission. They were told that their families were in custody of the Secret Agencies. They were threatened to cooperate and make a confessional statement as per direction, otherwise their wives would be raped.  Finally after 130 days, driven by torture and pressure, they made confessional statements of the heinous crimes they never committed.

They were court-martialed by the biased prejudiced and military chauvinist PAF Officer’s Tribunal after 21 months of their disappearance. The trial was declared secret and proceedings were tampered in the name of confidentiality. No incriminating evidence or pertaining to the case was brought against them. All witnesses were “primed” as to who the detained and disappeared Airmen were, and their reinstatement to the duties were linked to the prosecution’s desired evidence. Some of them turned “hostile.” In reprisal of turning hostile, they were also court-martialed and sentenced.

Six airmen were framed-up with fake charges of the Jhanda Chichi bridge bomb blast of 14 Dec 2004. Their plaintiff was the then president and Army Chief. So these all described elements that resulted in a terrible miscarriage of justice, and they were finally awarded death punishment because “law goes as king pleases.”

From the whole procedure of court-martial in 2005 until now they have been manacled in shackles and bar-fetters. No one can imagine the tribulation of a condemned prisoner because what the eye does not see the heart does not grieve over.

Since their disappearance in 2004, they have been facing perpetual apprehensions, persecutions, torture and human rights abuses. They are deprived even from their basic and inalienable constitutional rights, in the name of security.

The doors of higher civil courts are closed for them because the Supreme Court, who rejected their appeal in a ruling in September 2006, said that the higher civil courts did not have the authority to hear appeals against the Court Martial’s verdicts. But, this ill treatment exists only for them on the behest of hidden elements. Captain Usman Ameer’s death sentence was revoked by Apex Court on the 22nd of May in 2008, which was awarded by FGCM earlier. Lt. Colonel Munir Ahmed Gul was acquitted and restored to duty by LHC on the 12th of January in 2009, who had been sentenced to two years RI by FGCM.  Civilian Imran Munir was released by the Supreme Court in July of 2007, who had been sentenced to 8 years RI by FGCM. Civilian contractor Ghulam Abbas’s sentence was quashed by SC on the 8th of May in 2009. He was given twenty three years RI by PAF FGCM in the jet fuel corruption case. Is it not the paradox of judiciary?

Still, they are deprived of the copies of their trial proceedings. Is it not ironic, that some airmen, to be hanged, cannot even see their conviction proceedings?

Verdicts of civil courts including apex court, can be challenged, criticized, and blamed with biasing and prejudice. Their punishments can be termed as harsh, cruel, political and sometime called “judicial killing” such as in Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s case. But armed forces and their courts are “sacred cows.”

Unaware of Criminal Law, careless of the Constitution, Armed Forces Officers’ verdicts cannot be challenged. One should recall Army roll in Pakistan history. It means that wisdom of an Armed Forces Officer is more worthy than a full bench of Supreme Court Justices in criminal cases.

Was ZAB’s (Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto) crucifixion a “judicial killing?” A matter is going to be settled. ZAB’s trial was less prejudiced by military regime of General Zia-ul-Haq than the Airmen’s trial because courts and judges were civilians at least, and that was an open trial. But in the Airmen’s case the tribunal consisted of PAF Musharraf’s loyal Officers, the trial was “top secret” and the plaintiff was the then head of the state and military chief. ZAB cannot come back by the re-opening of his case, but twelve innocent lives can be saved by the re-opening of their case.

More than 200 PAF and Army personnel were subjected to disappearances in 2004. All were detained for more than 18 months without charges. They were all declared to be “high profile terrorists” and sent to civil high security jails designed and funded by the CIA, similar to Guantanamo Bay’s Camp X-Ray.

How ridiculous! These Airmen joined the Air Force in their teens, long before the “War on Terror.” Assuming the fact that they are “high profile terrorists” means that the Armed Forces are the massive producer of terrorists.

What do these oppressed, ill-fated and unlucky Airmen actually want? They want their case to be remitted for rehearing, in open court, before an impartial Tribunal of Supreme Court Justices. They seek legal redress for maltreatment, unjust and unfair conviction.

ZAB’s hanging case is going to be re-opened.  For what?  To prove his innocence. Will somebody dare to claim the hanging of Sepoy Islam Siddiqui, who was hanged in Multan Jail on the 20th of August 2005, without giving him right of any appeal a “military’s judicial killing?” (For details http://archives.dawn.com/archives/44282) and will someone raise the question why a Corporal Technician Hashmat was tortured to death?

By: Adnan Rashid

Condemned Prisoner

Ex Junior Technician of PAF

Pak No. 862476

A Court Martialed convict of

the first attempt on Musharraf’s life case.

And other convicts are:

Ex-Chief Technician Khalid Mehmood Pak/851866 Condemned Prisoner.

Ex-Senior Technician Karam Din Pak/ 854096 Lifer.

Ex-Corporal Tech Nawazish Pak/489906 Condemned prisoner.

Ex-Junior Tech Niaz Muhammad Pak/860186 Condemned prisoner

Ex-junior Tech Nasrullah Pak/865001 Lifer

Afghan Security Disrupts Plot By Pakistani Taliban To Detonate 10 Metric Tonnes of Explosives In Kabul

Another major Kabul strike foiled, 3 rebels held

by Pajhwok reporter

KABUL (PAN): Afghan security personnel on Saturday foiled a plot to carry out another massive attack in capital Kabul, seizing 10 tonnes of explosives and arresting three Pakistani nationals, alleged deployed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), said officials.

The militants and an explosives-laden truck were detained during a special operation by the intelligence staff, Shafiqullah Tahiri, a spokesman for the National Directorate of Security (NDS) briefed reporters today.

He said the three — Asghar Khan, Majid Rahman and Qemat Khan — with strong allegiance to Pakistani Taliban and two of their Afghan facilitators Abdul Qayyum and Jan Agha, residents of central Kapisa, were arrested in the capital.

The explosives, stuffed in 400 sacks and hidden under piles of potatoes, were planned to be used in a huge terrorist strike – mainly targeting crowded areas in the capital, he added.

The spokesman said the five suspects had links with ISI, the intelligence agency, which had often been blamed by Afghan and foreign officials for creating security mayhem and supporting Taliban in Afghanistan.

Last Sunday, Taliban-backed militants struck in three diplomatic areas in Kabul and three provinces – Lohar, Nangarah and Paktia, where nearly 50 people were killed.

NDS pointed fingers at Haqqani Network for the violent attacks.


Peak Oil Off: Great Game On

Peak Oil Off: Great Game On

This photo taken 11 October, 2006 shows gas bu... 

Matthew Hulbert

Peak oilers have had a pretty hard time lately. Not only have global unconventional finds flattened Hubbard’s ‘peak’, more and more conventional plays are cropping up. ‘Running out’? We have more than enough of the black stuff to incinerate ourselves several times over. Such supply side bounty has been well documented in the Americas – not just in the US and Canada, but across Latin America, offering a second pass at resource riches. Head all the way over to Australia, and you’ll see a dazzling display of unconventional technologies rapidly increasing kangaroo LNG production. The North Sea can squeeze out a few more drops; Europe can finally get it’s ‘energy sovereignty’ back from shale plays, all while the Arctic offers Russia untold oil riches. Anywhere you look, the narrative is the same. But just when we thought the global hydrocarbon map was complete, another serious player has cropped up, and it comes in the form of East Africa. This is the new African oil rush, and the race to secure regional riches between East and West is on. Nobody wants to lose: Peak oil is dead, the Great Game is back.

What’s particularly interesting about East Africa finds in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Ethiopia and more established fields in Uganda and Sudan, isn’t just the size of the finds, but the fact that European players have been leading the charge to secure concessions. Looking at the map, you’d think this would become a pure play ‘Chindian’ affair between China and India; sign upstream deals, load tankers, ship hydrocarbons directly across the Indian Ocean to home markets. Both Beijing and Delhi have been busy bidding for assets, but European players aren’t taking this lying down. Having lost the Middle East, seen North Africa take a turn for the worse, Latin America slip, and Russia on edge, East Africa is fast becoming a key priority for European boardrooms. Forget wildcat minnows, if East Africa is going to feed Asian markets, it’s European ‘super-majors’ that want to control the terms, taps and prices entailed.

Madagascar was stitched up by Exxon and Norway’s Statoil back in the early 2000s, every time BG Group now drills in Tanzania, gas is found. The British based company has unearthed 7 trillion cubic feet of gas on the trot, with Statoil sitting on even bigger finds, toping a billion barrels of oil equivalent. The same fields stretch down into Mozambique where Italy’s ENI have found 1.3boe matching similar finds made by US outfit, Anadarko. The key question being asked is not whether this is commercially attractive, but where to locate LNG export plants to monetise new found gains. Little wonder that a bidding war for CoveEnergy working in Mozambique has opened up. Royal Dutch Shell is showing considerable interest, not just in Cove’s Rovuma Offshore plays, but its world-scale LNG proposals to ship a minimum of 16tcf onto global markets. BP has expressed similar interest in Tanzanian LNG plants.

Higher risk markets such as Somalia and Ethiopia hold undoubted hydrocarbon promise, particularly in the Omo River Delta (Southern Ethiopia) but it’s further inland where things have really taken off: Uganda, and more controversially, Sudan. UK Independent, Tullow, has done most of the heavy lifting in Lake Albert (Uganda) alongside Total of France with belated contributions from CNOOC. Initial trickles of oil will start to flow next year, but the Albert basin has already unearthed a billion barrels of proven reserves, figures that could go significantly higher when surveys are conducted on the Congo border. That’s while the main plays China had secured in the region have turned horribly sour in Sudan. Separation between North and South has wiped out the vast bulk of Sudan’s 350,000b/d production: Word on the Juba Street is that a European hydrocarbon presence might be a good way of getting the diplomatic ball rolling.

That’s not gone down well in Beijing, but the real geopolitical clincher for the region is Kenya: it’s the swing state that will settle where regional control between East and West ultimately rests. In part, that’s because Nairobi has struck its own oil. Tullow is plugging away in the Rift Valley; serious offshore plays are being looked at in the Lamu Basin by US independent Apache, while trickier deep-water blocs have been taken by Total (France), BG Group and Ophir Energy. Thirty onshore and offshore areas are already under license, with a further eight deep-water tracts coming up for auction. But Kenya’s core strategic resonance isn’t just as a resource holder, but more as a transit state. Landlocked Uganda has little option but to ship its resources to Kenyan ports, and the same dynamic now applies to South Sudan – not unless a miraculous deal can be struck between Khartoum in the North and Juba in the South. Kenya will be the default energy hub linking East African production to international markets.

This is where China might be able to claw back some lost technological and geopolitical ground from Europe – notably by paying for the infrastructure involved. Sudan will need Chinese money to weld new pipes to the Uganda border towards Kenya, while Nairobi has already touted the so-called Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor Project to act as a crude maritime and refining hub. Although unashamedly pitched as a project ‘in search of Chinese money’, if Beijing considers itself to be on the back foot securing equity deals, rather than paying top dollar to secure new concessions from smaller European players, sinking cash into Kenyan infrastructure could be a strategically astute move. What China has missed on upstream positions, it could regain in terms of ‘vertical integration’ – directly tying Kenyan exports into Chinese maritime presence across the Indian Ocean.

This underlying competition certainly isn’t lost on host governments. With Europe, the US, India and China all trying to cement their stakes in the East Africa, Uganda had been ramping up capital gains taxes from Lake Albert spin-offs, prompting protracted tax disputes between the parties involved. Mozambique has made clear 12.8% capital gains will be paid on the forthcoming Cove sale; similar taxes are likely to crop up in Tanzania and Kenya. Broader political instability, particularly in Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia will remain problematic, as will the omnipotent threat of piracy in the region. But irrespective of these minor foibles, there is no way big European oil is going to turn its back on elephant fields littering East Africa. What’s more, future potential remains huge. Fewer than 500 wells have been drilled in the region, compared with over 35,000 in the rest of Africa to the North and West. Oil remains the biggest prize, but with Asian LNG demand on the up, gas plays have become a highly attractive option.

Like it or not, East Africa has just added another serious swathe of hydrocarbon prospects to the global economy. Irrespective of whatever pace the donkeys nod and gas flows, it underlines the fact we are re-entering a period of hydrocarbon plenty. Hydrocarbon assets aren’t ‘stranded’; we aren’t living in a carbon constrained world. The question for East Africa isn’t whether oil will be pumped and gas condensed, but who will be the main market players doing it between East and West. The really bad news for the ‘peak oil faithful’ is that commodity prices might not become more expensive in future. High benchmark prices today, continue to drive investment into technological innovation for cheaper extraction tomorrow. Little surprise that future oil prices are dipping under spot market dynamics: East Africa has merely added an attractive prospect for bullish supply side expectations. Peak is dead. The Great Game lives on…

Little Putin On the Way–Soon.

Lyudmila Putin is pregnant


Lyudmila Putin, located on the seventh month of pregnancy, undergoing tests at the University Hospital of the Ludwig Maximilian (Munich, Germany).

Rumors that the wife of Vladimir Putin’s “Knocked Up” have been confirmed.Chairman of the Council of Federation, Valentina Matvienko, in an interview with radio station “Silver Rain”, said that the 54-year-old Lyudmila Putin is in Germany, where she was assigned to receive obstetrical procedures performed prenatal wellness and prevention.

– Lyudmila feels good, – said Valentina Matvienko, – when we had seen in the last election on March 4, she joked that if you give birth to another daughter, the husband submits to a divorce and actually get married, as they say in “yellow” press, Alina Kabaeva.

However, Valentina Ivanovna kept intrigue, declined to answer the question, whether she knows about the sex of the child (sex determination by ultrasound is possible in 12 weeks), saying that he had known her, but she asked not to report it to the press before the official announcement.

We remind our readers that the earlier Lyudmila Putin to vote in presidential elections by absentee ballot, spent two weeks in the Holy Elizarovsk Monastery in Pskov region where, according to the Mother Superior Elizabeth (Belyaeva), fasting and communion. At the same time the prioress of the monastery of the Orthodox, or does not know anything about the pregnancy, the future first ladies of the Russian state, or it was strictly forbidden to answer questions about the true reasons for Putin’s visit female monastery walls.

We were able to contact the Director of the University Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynecology “Grosshadern”, Professor, Doctor of Medical Science Klaus Fries. Upon learning that we are from Russia, he asked us not to worry about the health of «frau Putin», assured that the expectant mother is under close surveillance around the clock professional and reasons to worry about the health of mother and unborn baby, despite the age of Lyudmila Putina, no.

But the press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, Putin has not commented about pregnancy, wife of the future president, only confirming the fact of her residence at the University Hospital of Munich. No one needs conspiracy continues, for some reason, religiously observed in the Kremlin administration, and after it left the “gray cardinal” Vladislav Surkov.

Help FogNews: currently in Family Putins have two children: daughter, Maria Putin (Leningrad, April 28, 1985) and Yekaterina Putin (Dresden, August 31, 1986). Both girls were named after grandparents: Maria Ivanovna Putin and Catherine Tikhonovna Shkrebneva. Judging by the way the speaker of the Federation Council clumsily tries to blow the fog, Lyudmila Putin is going to please the President of the heir. And, in a couple Putins established tradition, the boy should be called Spyridon – in honor of his grandfather, Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, as reported, “Arguments and Facts” radio station “Silver rain” demanded by RIA FogNews remove material under the name “Lyudmila Putin pregnant” in connection with false information about the source. The representative of the radio station said that “Silver Rain” does not spread in the air the information relied upon by the author.

Agni-V Test, US Support and the Whipping Boy!

Agni-V Test, US Support and the Whipping Boy!

Yasmeen Ali

India successfully tested ballistic missile with a range of more than 5,000km-going

uncriticised by USA which has shown an obsession over the years about a ‘supposed’

nuclear programme by Iran, and a huge concern for the failed rocket launch by North

Korea a few days earlier. India has increased its military spending by 13% this fiscal

year, to roughly US $38 billion(The Independent UK, dated 20th April, 2012 ,article

titled, ”India’s nuclear ambition must not be ignored”). Yet it has not raised US ire-or


India, the bully of the region has happily announced its entry in an exclusive club within

the comity of nations having the capability to hit 5,000 kilometers. Chinese newspaper,

Global Times(Beijing), hit out at Western countries for double standards for not

condemning the test firing of the Agni-V.

“The West chooses to overlook India’s disregard of nuclear and missile control treaties,

the editorial said. “The West remains silent on the fact that India’s military spending

increased by 17 percent.”

Double standards it is!

There is a club within a club, of countries of the world who can get away with

murder(literally) while others must behave or face the stick of the Master. Pakistan

being the favorite whipping boy!

The question here is the geo-political interest of US in the region. The question here is

the need to hold back China emerging as a super power in near future, if at all.  The need

here is to support a country within the region to act, or seem to act as a deterrent to

China.  Obvious choice: India.

What USA had completely overlooked in this game of regional hegemony is when you

let the genie out of the bottle, it will refuse to go back in the bottle. It can one day, turn

upon the master, once his heart’s desire of being let out is fulfilled.

USA has learnt no lessons from history. In it’s short term policy of countering Russian

influence in Afghanistan , it had created Mujahedeen(now re christened Taliban).

Today, the specter of the ghost hounds them. But not really a ghost is it?

Now, blubbering in Afghanistan, caught in a trap of it’s own making, USA does not know

how to extricate itself from her folly!

This strategy has led to the need by US to involve India more in Afghanistan to the

complete denial of genuine interest of Pakistan, her ‘ally’ in WOT. USA is overlooking

the fact that the security environment in South Asia has always been guided by

traditional rivalry, Pakistan and India being the  two players. USA cannot wish away the

reason for three wars between India and Pakistan. The reasons, no international forum

has shown interest in resolving. According to a paper by Syed Shahid Hussain Bokhari

for the Berkley Journal of Social Sciences, published Jan 2011, the strategic balance in

the region is maintained by Nuclear Deterrence and role of major powers(USA).He

correctly states that  US tilt towards India will put Pakistan interests at stake.

USA desire to support India is an expression to maintain hegemonic superiority over her

perceived rival in the region. India has not accepted any legal binding against nuclear

testing ,” nuclear testing by India might enable it to wield nuclear weapons with much

larger explosive power than those currently in the Indian arsenal; that in turn would

allow important changes in Indian nuclear strategy- for example, it might let India

target Chinese or Pakistani nuclear sites that were previously safe; driving Beijing or

Islamabad to develop new weapons themselves or to change their currently restrained

strategies for using nuclear arms”.( Michael A. Levi and Charles D Ferguson, U.S.-India

Nuclear Cooperation A Strategy of Moving Forward. Council Special Report, Council

on Foreign Relations, 2006: 11). With the new Indo_US partnership in offing , India

will use her status with the US to be used against Pakistan, it’s traditional rival. The

equanimity with which USA has accepted the new ballistic missile fired by India is an

example. This new nexus will, at some point compel Pakistan, for the sake of her

survival and the need to counter India, into seeking options where USA may not figure.

For USA then, it could turn into a self defeating exercise and leading her in a trap of her

own making .

In this dangerous game , the double standards being indulged in by USA are being well

read, “India missile test has few critics, unlike NKorea,” read the headline to a widely-

distributed AP story, which said the test caused barely a ripple — even in China — just

days after North Korea was globally vilified for a failed rocket launch. ( The Times of

India , published 20th April 2012, titled, ”US refrains from criticizing Agni V test,

praises India’s non- proliferation record” by Chidanand Rajghatta). 

USA is a weakened nation today. After it’s long drawn out war in Afghanistan with

nothing to show for it(unless you count destruction of the country and killing of

civilians, urinating on dead bodies as a victory), and the war on Iraq, it needs strategic

partners to help her, in spite of a weak economy due to long drawn out wars, in

maintaining her hegemony over China, the upcoming challenger to USA’s status. This

will lead to USA’s adventurism into forming new alliances at the expense of old ones,

whatever it takes!

Leaving Pakistan, the favorite whipping boy, tossed aside like used tissue, to fend for

herself. Pakistan will do well to understand the need of USA to do so. Pakistan should

look for options here as her very equation in the region is at stake!

The interesting paradox of US policy is the inbuilt self defeating mechanism. By leaning

completely towards India( why am I reminded here of a parallel: USA’s role in Israel vs

Iran?)it control on Pakistan has to weaken. This will ensure, entrance in the corridor of

the arena of others interested in having a foot in .

Unfortunately, USA has over the years shown a fixation for short term policies.

The writer is a university professor based in Lahore & may be reached at


NATO runs for Afghan exit

Opinion: NATO runs for Afghan exit

Christoph HasselbachChristoph Hasselbach is DW’s Brussels correspondent

Deutsche Welle

While NATO once wanted to instill democracy before leaving Afghanistan, the alliance now seems satisfied a civil war isn’t tearing the country apart as it withdraws troops, says DW’s Christoph Hasselbach.

It was not very long ago that NATO was assuring the world that it would remain in Afghanistan for as long as necessary and that combat troops would not be withdrawn until Afghan security forces could replace them. And that’s still the line, officially anyway.

But NATO is sugar-coating the figures in order to get out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible. Last Sunday, Taliban fighters were able to push into the center of Kabul’s most highly security districts and fire on government buildings, Western embassies and even the international security forces’ warehouse. While the military use of their attack is questionable, it was of more symbolic importance.

If an attack like this could take place while some 130,000 foreign soldiers were still present, what would happen when they leave the country?

More pressure on politicians

Still, NATO officials and defense ministers from the alliance’s member countries are falling over themselves to praise the Afghan security forces’ “professional behavior.” The truth is that the military situation doesn’t matter and that the “running for the exit” that NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has continually warned of has already begun. Countries participating in the mission are weary of it.

The general public – whether in the United States, Germany or anywhere else – is asking itself if the mission’s human and material sacrifice has been worth it and is increasingly coming to the conclusion that it hasn’t been. In addition, the security troops in Afghanistan are seen more and more as an occupying force and the most recent set of pictures American soldiers posing with dead Afghans has only strengthened that view. That’s one reason Afghan President Hamid Karzai has pushed for an accelerated withdrawal of foreign troops. No government can ignore the pressure coming from home as well as Afghanistan.

Costly undertaking

The greatest danger is that Western countries run blindly from Afghanistan and lose everything their large sacrifices have achieved in the country. Way back at the beginning the goal was to institute democratic structures and rights for women. Now with even the most basic stability in danger, it seems to be enough for NATO that the country is not torn apart by civil war.

The 2014 withdrawal date will not change for military reasons but could for political ones. Even if it is difficult to accept, there are two things that need to happen. First, the withdrawal needs to a coordinated one. At the moment it appears that every country is deciding on its own. Second, it needs to be clear to NATO alliance members that withdrawal does not mean they can forget about Afghanistan. Funding and training for Afghan security forces will be crucial for years.

Although no guarantees can be made about Afghanistan’s future, it is clear that the country will once again fall into the hands of the Taliban if the West abandons Afghanistan. That’s a situation that would once again raise the question: What was the point of all the sacrifice?

Author: Christoph Hasselbach / sms
Editor: Rob Mudge

Moscow May Skip NATO Summit

Moscow May Skip NATO Summit

Lavrov briefing reporters after Thursday’s NATO-Russia talks in Brussels.

Sebastien Pirlet / Reuters

Lavrov briefing reporters after Thursday’s NATO-Russia talks in Brussels.

BRUSSELS — NATO and Russia are facing new dissonances because the Western alliance’s upcoming Chicago summit is likely to be held without Moscow’s participation.

Speaking at separate news conferences after a NATO-Russia council meeting in Brussels on Thursday, Foreign MinisterSergei Lavrovand NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said both sides were committed to continuing cooperation on various fields.

But an ongoing spat over missile defense, uncertainty over an offer from Moscow to open an airport in Ulyanovsk for NATO transports from Afghanistan and Vladimir Putin’s looming return to the Kremlin have cast a shadow over the relationship, which was formalized with the creation of the NATO-Russia Council a decade ago.

At the May 20-21 Chicago summit, NATO is set to launch the first phase of its missile shield without having won Moscow’s participation as hoped after the Lisbon NATO-Russia summit in 2010.

Lavrov warned that he might not accept an invitation to send a representative to Chicago because the alliance won’t let Moscow attend all meetings of nations contributing to ISAF, NATO’s Afghanistan mission.

He argued that some countries contribute just two officers to ISAF, while Russia provides vital transport corridors to Afghanistan. “We believe that our views are important. It is not fair that we get no invitation,” he told reporters.

Rasmussen said Russia was invited to attend an ISAF-contributor meeting at the sidelines of the Chicago summit.

He explained that Putin had agreed not to come because the event would be too soon after he was sworn in as president. “We agreed that due to a very busy domestic political calendar in Russia … it’s not possible and not practical also to have a NATO-Russia summit meeting in Chicago,” Rasmussen said.

“Our relationship with Russia is not dependent on one single meeting. It’s a long-term partnership,” he said.

Putin’s inauguration is scheduled for May 7. Putin will, however, attend a Group of Eight summit in Camp David on May 18 and 19.

Earlier reports said U.S. President Barack Obama moved the G8 summit to Camp David in a goodwill gesture to avoid potentially putting Putin in an awkward position. However, a NATO source told The Moscow Times that the alliance was more than happy not to see Putin in Chicago. “They do not want him to steal the show,” the source said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Putin appeared before reporters without prior announcement at NATO’s Bucharest summit in 2008 and reportedly tried to gatecrash the alliance’s Riga summit in 2006, only to be rebuffed by the Latvian government.

The Chicago summit will also finalize a massive troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, which hinges upon Russian support because rail transportation through Pakistan and Uzbekistan has become increasingly difficult.

Moscow has offered use of an airport in Ulyanovsk for airlifting so-called nonlethal equipment from Afghanistan, but the proposal has been met with bitter resistance by the Communists, who even staged a hunger strike. Lavrov did not say Thursday when the airlifts could begin.

Meanwhile, Lavrov made it clear that missile defense remains the biggest challenge for the country’s NATO ties by reiterating Moscow’s demand for firm guarantees that the planned shield won’t be directed against Russia.

Hesaida written political declaration, as offered by NATO, was insufficient and that the guarantees should be based on “objective criteria.”

Asked to explain, he said they should include “military, technical and other” criteria that ensure the system is not directed against any European country, including Russia.

Lavrov did not mention the Kremlin’s long-standing demand for “legally binding guarantees,” something that NATO has refused to grant in the past. But a NATO spokesman said Thursday that “technical criteria” referred to Moscow’s call for technical limitations that would render the system incapable of intercepting missiles from Russia.

“This is completely out of the question,” the spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

Lavrov said Moscow would stage a public evaluation of the missile shield’s technical capability during a major conference planned by the Defense Ministry for May 3 and 4 in Moscow.

NATO officials said the alliance had been invited but a decision had yet to be made on who would attend.

Evoking Ronald Reagan, Lavrov said that while words were important, one should “trust, but verify, as one U.S. president said.” Reagan frequently used the Russian proverb when discussing relations with the Soviet Union.

Moscow has opposed NATO’s missile defense plans, which include stationing SM-3 interceptors in Poland and Romania and on ships based in Spain. PresidentDmitry Medvedevhas announced plans to station new missiles in the western exclave of Kaliningrad.

NATO officials say the defense shield is technically incapable of intercepting Russian missiles and that Moscow has declined or not responded to offers to inspect their latest technology at a U.S. military base in Colorado Springs.

A senior NATO official made it clear that the plans would go ahead without Moscow. “NATO’s system is going to be deployed no matter what,” he said.

Rasmussen, however, stressed that talks would continue. “While dialogue is not always easy, we continue exploring the options,” he said, noting that NATO and Russian experts held a computerized missile defense exercise in Germany last month.

The Moscow Times

Chinese media mock India’s Building ‘Dwarf’ Missiles Instead of Toilets

‘Gao Zugui of the Institute of International Strategic Studies, who said: “Despite giving a little support, it was right in saying that if it really wants to become a great nation, each of its families should have a toilet first.”‘

[How can India’s foolish talk about becoming a military “Superpower” be taken seriously anywhere, when so many children in the country go to bed hungry, sleep in the streets, use the alleys and railroad tracks for toilets and are otherwise “untouchable”?  Indian leaders imagine that they can play “world statesmen” without first ensuring that they have something like “no child left behind.”]

Chinese media mock India’s ‘dwarf’ missile

India’s Agni-V missile being launched from Wheeler Island off India's east coast

The missile has a range of more than 5,000km – far enough to reach most of China

While the Indian media are being swept along by the euphoria of the successful test launch of Delhi’s first long-range ballistic missile – which can reach deep within China – Chinese papers have dismissed outright its impact on India’s military might vis-a-vis China.

The press termed the test a “missile delusion” and a mere “show of strength”.

While the Indian media dubbed it a “China-killer”, state-run Chinese newspapers mocked the latest Indian missile, the Agni-V, calling it a “dwarf” compared to China’s own missiles.

Both Chinese- and English-language newspapers rejected the view that this missile would tilt the strategic balance in the region towards India, something that the Indian media have been celebrating for the past two days.

Chinese official reaction has been more restrained, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lui Weimin calling India a “partner and not a rival”.

In its editorial on Thursday – the day of the launch – the state-run English-language newspaper Global Times dismissed India “standing a chance” in a confrontation with China.

“India should not overestimate its strength… For the foreseeable future, India would stand no chance in an overall arms race with China,” the editorial said.

‘No breakthrough’

On 20 April, an editorial in the state-run newspaper Huanqiu Shibaosaid India’s strategic strike force was in “early childhood”.

It further mocked the missile programme by saying that the Agni-V showed “the backwardness of Indian missiles” and was “merely one of the concrete displays of its social and economic development as a whole lagging behind China”.

In a similar vein, commentator Wu Xuelan wrote in the Communist Party newspaper Renmin Wang that India has always “cherished the dream of becoming a major power” but its social problems “are still very serious”.

Instead of wasting money on developing missiles, India “should do a better job in terms of [improving] the lives of ordinary people”, the newspaper said.

In an interview with the English-language China Daily, a senior researcher from the Academy of Military Science, Yao Yunzhu, said that the new missile is not a “significant breakthrough for India”.

Mr Yao said it was just “an improvement on the range” that in no way will change the “current military strength contrast between the two countries”.

Even commentators and analysts on CCTV‘s Global Watch programme on 19 April dismissed the strategic impact of the new missile launch.

Song Xiaojun, the editor of the Chinese Military Magazine, played down India’s military strength.

“Without an adequate tank corps and a heavy-duty land force with adequate heavy weapons, it can hardly become a so-called ‘China killer’ by relying solely on nuclear weapons,” he said.

Similar views were echoed by Gao Zugui of the Institute of International Strategic Studies, who said: “Despite giving a little support, it was right in saying that if it really wants to become a great nation, each of its families should have a toilet first.”

Hong Kong’s English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post, on 20 April quipped that “India insists the missile – dubbed the ‘China killer’ in some of the country’s more colourful media – is only for deterrent purposes”.

But: “Amid a powder keg of security concerns and competition for energy resources as China’s rise transforms the political landscape, it poses a potential threat to regional stability and harmony.”

Russia Asks Why ISAF Mission Must End In 2014 Even Though Americans Remain Indefinitely

Russia concerned over US plans to keep Afghan bases

Brussels, April 20 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has expressed concern over US plans to keep its military contingent in Afghanistan after the pullout of international troops in 2014.

Lavrov also said Moscow was worried about the drug and terrorism situation in Afghanistan after the pullout.

“We do not understand such (US) plans to maintain a presence, we have questions and we would like to get answers,” Lavrov said following a foreign ministerial meeting of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels.

He said the international contingent stayed in Afghanistan under a UN Security Council mandate.

“So long as the Afghan side is unable to provide security in the country, any artificial deadlines for troops’ withdrawal do not seem quite correct. But when the UN Security Council mandate expires, there will be no reason for a foreign presence in Afghanistan and the region,” he said.

The Russian minister expressed concern about the persisting threat of terrorism and drug trafficking from Afghanistan.

“Unfortunately, despite all the international efforts, the threat of terrorism and drug trafficking from Afghanistan persists,” he said.

Russia “is concerned how things are going to develop after the International Security Assistance Force is pulled out of Afghanistan”.

According to Russia’s federal drug control watchdog, heroin production in Afghanistan rose 40-fold in the past decade, and opium poppy plantations cover 130,000 hectares in the Central Asian country.

According to the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Taliban makes $150 million from drug production annually and total drug profits amounted to $4 billion.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

Rawl’s Homicide/Suicide Puts 5th Spec. Ops. Group Under Spotlight

[SEE:  It is this “Warrior Mentality” Nonsense That Is Creating the Monsters]

South Bend native and LaSalle High School graduate Jessica Rawls (right) was killed April 13 at her Fort Campbell home during apparent domestic violence incident involving her husband, Army Specialist Rico Rawls Jr. He died Monday. (Photo Courtesy of Jessica Rawls family / April 18, 2012)

Rawls homicide puts 5th Group in spotlight

Sources: Command knew of problems with husband year ago, deployed him anyway

Written by
Philip Grey

CLARKSVILLE, TENN. — Details emerged on Wednesday regarding the Friday the 13th slaying of Army Reservist Spc. Jessica Rawls and subsequent actions by authorities that stand in stark contrast to Army policy.

Spc. Jessica Rawls, mother of three and an information management technology specialist with the 290th Military Police Brigade headquartered in Nashville, died in her Fort Campbell home of gunshot wounds at around 10 p.m. on Friday.

Her husband, Spc. Rico Rawls of 5th Special Forces Group, led police on an 80-mile high-speed chase from Hamilton County, Tenn., into Bartow County, Ga., where he was stopped using spike strips by the Bartow County Sheriffs Office.

Rico Rawls shot himself before being apprehended and died at about 2 p.m. Monday.

Of Jessica Rawls’ three children, only her youngest, 1-year-old Zoey, was at the residence when the shooting occurred, sleeping in an upstairs front bedroom.

Jessica Rawls’ mother, Dawn Sult-Williams of South Bend, Ind., was not notified of her daughter’s death until nearly four days later, according to posts on her mother’s Facebook page and reports from a fellow soldier at Jessica Rawls’ unit and Rawls’ Fort Campbell neighbor and friend Angie Kitchen, an Army spouse who drives a bus for Fort Campbell’s Warrior Transition Battalion.

Sult-Williams posted the following to her friends on Facebook on Tuesday night, along with a Leaf-Chronicle link to the story of Rico Rawls’ death that was published on the website Tuesday evening:

“Yes. It is true. My daughter was murdered Friday night. … Just in case you are wondering why I have said nothing until now … no one bothered to tell us until today… They “couldn’t find my number”? They have her cell phone. It’s under “Mom”!

A subsequent post alleged a lack of action on behalf of 5th Group prior to Friday’s incident:

“Thank you everyone for your support. But as for my son-in-law Rico … He came back from Iraq a different person … We asked, pleaded, and begged for help for him. No one listened. No one listened and they are trying to cover that fact at this point. ….

“I pray that someone will listen now. Especially since he is the 2nd soldier in 5th group to do this in less than one month! I am not angry at Rico … I am angry at the situation, and I am sad … beyond sad …

The pre-Iraq Rico Rawls would not have done this … Someone needs to listen … And act. Or this will continue to happen.”

The other violent incident involving 5th Group soldiers occurred March 18 when Sgt. 1st Class Frederic N. Moses, 26, was shot in a subdivision off Tiny Town Road near Peachers Mill Road in Clarksville. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has charged Sgt. Benjamin Schweitzer with criminal homicide in the case.

Lack of notification

Kitchen, the Rawls’ neighbor at their Fort Campbell housing area, related details of the incident in an interview on Wednesday, and lambasted Fort Campbell law enforcement officials and 5th Group leaders for the late notification to Jessica Rawls’ mother, which was delivered by a phone call.

“Jessica and her family were treated with ultimate disrespect,” Kitchen said. “Rico Rawls’ unit failed the Army Family Covenant.”

Kitchen said she and other neighbors told a plainclothes Army Criminal Investigation Division officer on Friday night that Jessica Rawls was a soldier serving in a Military Police unit in Nashville. According to a soldier of the 290th MP Brigade, who has asked that his name not be used, the unit was not notified of Jessica Rawls’ death until Tuesday morning, prior to notification of Rawls’ mother.

The soldier said he and others in his Reserve unit became worried when Rawls missed weekend drill, and he drove up to Fort Campbell Tuesday to check on her.

“I pulled up and saw the house was boarded up with a tag on it and got really scared,” said the soldier, who is also a family friend of the Rawls’. “There were candles and flowers – graveyard flowers – at the door. I asked a neighbor if she knew what happened. She told me.

“Needless to say, I didn’t take it very well at all.”

History of problems

The soldier related that the MP’s had been called to the Rawls’ residence last year for domestic violence around Easter, months prior to Rico Rawls’ second deployment in August to Iraq as part of 5th Group.

“I know that several times (Jessica) had gone to his chain of command, saying, ‘Look, (Rico) is having problems – numerous problems – and his command didn’t do anything.

“That bothers me. It bothers me that soldiers aren’t being taken care of.

“I can’t help but be extremely p—-d off at (Rico), but the soldier side of me says that soldier wasn’t taken care of like he should have been.”

According to Kitchen, a staff sergeant in Rico Rawls’ chain of command at 5th Group arrived on the scene of the shooting last Friday night and told her the unit had known of the domestic violence problem since April last year.

“I asked why they hadn’t referred them to family advocacy,” Kitchen said. “He looked right at me and said that the command decided to deploy (Rico) instead.”

“Rico and Jessica were willing to go to counseling last year,” Kitchen said. “Instead, they got another deployment … another stress point.”

Nearly as bad as the late notification of Jessica Rawls’ mother, said Kitchen, was a failure to enact the couple’s family care plan, which she said is mandatory for two married soldiers, detailing what to do with children in the event of deployment or an emergency.

“You have to have a dual family-care plan,” said Kitchen. “The unit knew. (Jessica) was deceased. (Rico) was in custody. But for at least four days, their child was in state custody. I don’t know about today.”

For Kitchen, the big question is why – despite being told of Jessica Rawls’ status as a soldier and despite the high likelihood of a family-care plan on file at both units – was notification to Jessica’s mother so late in coming, and done by phone call?

She answered her own question bitterly. “The number one thing was to cover themselves.”

Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg was contacted at 2 p.m. and informed of the allegations, but did not respond before press time beyond Lt. Col. April Olsen’s statement that the notification of Jessica’s death given to her mother by phone was a violation of Army protocol.

Philip Grey, 245-0719

Military affairs reporter