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