Russian Commandos Being Readied for Possible Peacekeeping Operations Outside Country

Syrian direction of Russian troops

Defense beginning intensive training units for operations outside the country

Syria, the Ministry of Defence / Navy Commander Vladimir Shamanov on orders ready to send commandos to address peacekeeping challenges. Picture Inter / PhotoXPress.ru

Navy Commander Vladimir Shamanov on orders ready to send commandos to address peacekeeping challenges. 
Picture Inter / PhotoXPress.ru

The Ministry of Defence in the number of tasks, has recently put the generals by President Vladimir Putin, a new plan for use of the armed forces outside Russia. One of the countries where there may be actions of Russian troops abroad – Syria.Details of the plan worked out with the joint headquarters of the Organization of Collective Security Treaty, as well as regional Anti-Terrorist Structure of Shanghai Cooperation Organization. This is “NG” on condition of anonymity, said a source in the military.

An indirect confirmation of this information are also words of Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Nikolai Bordyuzha. He said the possibility of participation of the CSTO peacekeeping force in resolving the crisis in Syria. On the intensive training of Russian troops to do likewise show a special training program for the airborne troops, GRU and light compounds Army and Marine Corps of the Navy.

A source in the Defense Ministry said on condition of anonymity, “NG”, that the participation of Russian troops outside the country, including in Syria, we need a political solution to the Russian leadership and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations. However, Russian troops were already training work out peacekeeping tasks as a part of a feasible multinational force, as well as their own. At the same time practiced the specific tactical issues – technical equipment areas, checkpoints and observation posts, the use of weapons, training and firing, etc.

Notes that the effort involved in operations in the Middle East is fraught with active combat. This fact confirms the statement Bordyuzha as saying: “In Syria, the same seems to be needed to carry out an operation to enforce peace first of all fighters.That is, those who are trying to solve political problems by force of arms, not in the Constitution of the State. ” However, according to the Secretary General of Collective Security Treaty Organization, the initiative was “bright for politicians, but not for those who are in the peacekeeping force will fall into a hell.” “There is in fact, seems to have carried out combat with heavy weapons on both sides” – concludes Bordyuzha.


Desatniki Pskov Airborne Division took part in peacekeeping operations, and local military conflicts. 
Photo PhotoXPress.ru

Such scenarios are, apparently, were studied during the outbreak last Monday inspections Pskov 76th air assault division (DSHD) Navy. The inspection will take place under the direction of the chief military inspector general-lieutenant, Gennady Borisov. As a representative of the Defense Ministry told reporters on the Navy, Colonel Alexander Kucherenko, such a check in the compounds of the Airborne troops for the first time. It will last about three weeks at military ranges, “Struga Red” and “Zavelich’e.” It is necessary to determine the “state of combat readiness and combat training, staffing division, level of training and field training of personnel”, – said Kucherenko. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense official reports do not say that the 76th DSHD began preparations for military action in Syria.

It should be noted that the Pskov Airborne Division – one of the most combat-ready connections in the Armed Forces. Its officers, NCOs and men participated in the peacekeeping operation in Kosovo (1999-2001), the fighting in Chechnya (1994-1996, 1999-2007) and the war with Georgia (August 2008). In 2004 she was the first in the Russian army was fully contracted.

In addition to the 76 th DSHD are intensively trained to act outside the country conducts the 15th combined arms brigade in Samara. How to tell “NG” in the headquarters of the Central Military District, in addition to all traditional infantry tactics, fire and engineering training peacekeepers from June 1, 2012 began an extended study of international humanitarian law and intensive language practice. In addition, Samara will learn the rules of military duty at roadblocks and checkpoints, as well as practice in patrolling the so-called separation of bands. They tend to create the borders of the conflicting parties.

According to sources from the Southern Military District, for combat operations outside the Russian Federation prepared and special units, staffed by the Chechens, who had previously served in the GRU spetsbatalonah “West” and “East”. Recall, on the initiative of then-Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov Chechen soldiers in 2006-2007, has successfully carried out peacekeeping missions in Lebanon. They distinguished themselves in the brief war to repel the Georgian aggression against South Ossetia in August 2008.

Possible actions in Syria have already been trained special forces from the separate brigade of marines Black Sea Fleet. As you know, they were present at the patrol ship “Smetliviy”, which in May 2012 with a business calling visited the Syrian port of Tartus, where the lease sites are Russian Navy.

Editor in Chief, “Problems of national strategy,” said Ajdar Kurtov “NG”, that Russia has geopolitical interests in the Middle East, and it will support Syria, including, possibly using its peacekeepers. “Syria is slipping into civil war. And its leaders need help, which, with appropriate political will of the Russian Federation may have – said the expert. – It is desirable, of course, to carry out in cooperation with the allies of Russia in the CSTO and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. But the West and the Arab world this is, of course, will interfere. Ahead of us are waiting for hard times. And because the Russian army should be prepared accordingly, so that contact with the Allies to fulfill its peacekeeping missions in Syria, in order to defend its interests there. “

Number Two Zeta Arrested By US Authorities At His Oklahoma Horse-Breeding Ranch

[SEE:  Oklahoma, New Mexico horse-racing tracks linked to Mexican drug cartel, Feds say]

Jose Trevino Morales captured brother of Z-40

Treviño

U.S. authorities arrested the brother of Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, the second in command of Los Zetas, who ran a ranch horse racing in Oklahoma in which washed billion, The New York Times.

The brothers settled in U.S. Trevino a successful business breeding thoroughbred horses, called Tremor Enterprise, which allowed them to launder money obtained through drug trafficking, according to reports of police officers obtained by the NYT.

With the money from Miguel Angel Trevino, aka Z-40, his brother Joseph bought a ranch in Oklahoma and about 300 stallions and mares, and in just a period of 3 years did win three of the most important races in the U.S., winning about 2.5 million dollars in prizes.

The Justice Department on Tuesday made a raid on the ranch in Oklahoma, involving helicopters and hundreds of agents, making the capture of Jose Trevino and several of his collaborators, who are expected to be indicted soon.

According to EU authorities, this network of Los Zetas earmarked about one million dollars a month to buy racehorses in the United States.

The authorities were alerted about the cartel’s activities on U.S. soil in January 2010 when they were informed that Los Zetas a day paid a million dollars for two mares for breeding.

Agents said that horse racing is one of the favorite pastimes of Miguel Angel Trevino, and although always in constant motion, he manages to handle several ranches and racetracks in Mexico and Guatemala where organized races “parejeras ”

Clinton Should Share the Blame For Killings of Armenian Soldiers

Clinton Should Share the Blame For Killings of Armenian Soldiers

Harut Sassounian

BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN

A tragic pattern of bloody engagements continues to recur along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border at great human cost. Whenever high level visits or international meetings are scheduled on the Artsakh (Karabakh) conflict, Azerbaijan unfailingly initiates attacks on Armenian border guards causing many casualties.

Azerbaijan’s leaders hope that such hostile action would impress upon the mediating countries the urgency of resolving the conflict by pressuring Armenia’s leadership to make territorial concessions on Artsakh.

Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the Caucasus republics. On the day of her arrival in Yerevan, Azeri forces attacked two Armenian border posts, killing three soldiers and wounding many others. In the ensuing days, more Azeri attacks took place, drawing Armenian return fire, resulting in scores of casualties, mostly on the Azeri side.

Armenians expected Secretary Clinton to strongly condemn Azerbaijan after its initial attack. Clearly, the Azeri military action was timed to coincide with her visit to Armenia. Yet, regrettably, the Secretary merely urged both countries to refrain from “the use of force,” stressing that the Artsakh conflict “can be resolved exclusively by peaceful means.” Clinton’s totally unacceptable statement equated the aggressors with the victims. Moreover, by not condemning the Azeri attacks, she actually emboldened Azerbaijan to commit further acts of aggression against Armenia.

Since it is common knowledge that Azerbaijan orchestrates such attacks to coincide with visits of high-ranking officials to the region, Secretary Clinton should have warned Azerbaijan, before embarking on her trip, not to initiate any hostile action while she was in the area. The State Department should have advised the Azeri government that any breach of the ceasefire during the Clinton visit would be personally embarrassing for the Secretary of State, leaving her no choice but to cancel her trip to Baku. Even if such a warning was not issued in advance, Clinton should have refused to go to Baku after the Azeri attacks. Unfortunately, the Secretary placed a higher value on Azeri oil than on Armenian blood. By her actions, she also undermined the international prestige and moral standing of the United States!

As this could be Clinton’s farewell visit to the region — she is retiring from public service later this year — it is regrettable that she will leave behind a legacy of violence and conflict rather than peace and reconciliation. The US Secretary may have come to Yerevan and Baku to encourage a negotiated settlement to the Artsakh conflict, yet she left the region more destabilized than before.

Another factor that has encouraged Azerbaijan to continue its attacks is the inadequate Armenian response to the countless ceasefire violations since 1994. Armenians will be unable to stop Azeri aggression simply by firing back. The Aliyev regime should be made to understand that it would pay a heavy price for breaching the ceasefire. Rather than simply returning fire, the Armenian response should be to neutralize the Azeri military positions responsible for initiating the attacks.

Although some may fear that a more robust Armenian response would lead to all-out conflict, such concerns are misplaced because Azerbaijan is not ready to wage war, according to most military experts. By starting a premature war, the Azeris risk losing even more territories, not to mention the enormous economic losses!

To deter further Azeri aggression and reduce Armenian casualties, here are seven actions that Armenia may consider taking should Azerbaijan continue to violate the ceasefire:

– Respond by targeting Azerbaijan’s petroleum industry, disrupting its oil and gas pipelines. The best defense is a good offense.

– Take preemptive action to neutralize Azeri snipers who regularly target Armenian border guards and civilians in nearby villages.

– After each attack suspend peace talks with Azerbaijan for an indefinite period. One cannot talk peace and fight at the same.

– Demand that all countries refrain from the sale of weapons to Azerbaijan.

– Urge CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization), a defense-alliance that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, to warn Azerbaijan that any further attacks on Armenia would trigger a collective military response from all CSTO members.

– Declare that Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan in the Artsakh conflict constitutes a hostile act, and hence withdraw Armenia’s signature from the Armenia-Turkey Protocols.

– Recognize the Republic of Artsakh as an independent state and invite other countries to do likewise.

Turkmen Govt. Keeps Firing Blanks Over Trans-Caspian Pipeline Fuel It Cannot Produce

[The following article from Rockefeller-associated Trend website is a total fluff piece, which falls flat.  Instead of highlighting Turkmenistan’s large hydrocarbon reserves, it only serves to draw attention to the Turkmen inability to live up to its bullshit claims, that it can fulfill its current gas commitments, as well as filling a proposed trans-Caspian pipeline.  Whatever Turkmenistan has to offer beyond what it is already pumping-out of the ground, is locked deep underground–most of it under the deep blue Caspian waters.  Pipelines cannot be filled with promises alone.  The only possible way that Turkmenistan production can fulfill Turkmen pipe dreams is if the major Western oil and gas corporations are brought in to run the show, but so far, Berdi has been reluctant to relinquish that degree of control over his buried goldmine.  

The Trend fluff piece also misses the boat on what is left of the original Nabucco backers.   At least two pipeline backers have so far backed-out of the consortium, German RWE and Hungarian MOL.  (Nabucco Is Toast).]  

Turkmenistan to examine underwater pipeline construction technologies

Turkmenistan, Ashgabat

Trend 

H. Hasanov

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has urged the scientists of the Academy of Sciences to develop innovative pipeline-building technologies for the Caspian Sea bed, the Turkmen government said today.

The president said fundamental research must be conducted in Turkmen seismology. The international cooperation must be expanded in the field of seismology. New techniques and technologies must be introduced.

Turkmenistan also voiced the initiative to give concrete content to international efforts to preserve the unique natural resources of the Caspian Sea at the 66th session of UN General Assembly in New York City. A proposal was made to organize the Caspian Environment Forum as a permanent body to deal with environmental issues.

“The primary role in solving ecological problems of the Caspian Sea should be given to the scientists,” he added. I think that it is necessary to develop multi-purpose long-term regional research programs aimed at developing new scientific approaches to protect the Caspian natural area.”

Ashgabat is sure the construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project has the right to a speedy implementation. It is the best variant for Turkmen gas exports to European market.

The EU, which is interested in diversifying energy flows, has already begun negotiating to conclude the agreement on this project between the EU, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. West and Turkmenistan think that the issue of laying a 300-kilometer pipeline through the Caspian Sea
bed is under the jurisdiction of the countries covered by the project – that is, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

While meeting with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso in Ashgabat early last year, Berdimuhamedov said he considers the European direction to be the most promising and expressed his willingness to sign specific agreements on Nabucco project after detailed negotiations.

Barroso stressed the importance of building the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline to ensure the safety and security of energy supplies to Europe, as well as a stable demand for Turkmen gas.

During talks about the possible realization of the Trans-Caspian project, Russia and Iran, having the largest natural gas reserves in the world, discussed potential risks to the Caspian ecosystem.

Practice proves the opposite: the Russian Gazprom gas monopoly has implemented itself and continues to implement even more ambitious projects via the Black and Baltic seas. Turkmen ecologists at the international ecological conference in Ashgabat recalled that “there has been a pipeline at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea since the 1970s”.

At the same time, it was said that marine pipelines “are much more practical, cheaper and environmentally safer” because they are “virtually isolated from the influence of human activity due to being under a layer of water and away from the coast.”

Ashgabat is committed to the view that the environmental component for any economic project and in particular, one of this scale, is “extremely important” and said it was ready to undertake the necessary expertise at a high level with the parties concerned.

The Trans-Caspian route might become part of the Nabucco transnational project with its implementation of which Brussels expects at the expense of Caspian resources to diversify sources of gas consumption, a significant portion of which at this stage is ensured by Russia.

Potential buyers are Austrian OMV, Hungarian MOL, Turkish Botas, Bulgarian Bulgargaz, Romanian Transgaz, and German RWE which are all members of Nabucco. The last of these is represented on the Turkmen market under the Production Sharing Agreement on the shelf of the Caspian Sea.

Turkmenistan has expressed willingness to supply the Nabucco project annually with 40 billion cubic meters of gas of which 10 billion could be provided by Malaysian Petronas working on the Turkmen sea block.

The rest of the volume can be provided by the 1000km long East-West gas pipeline being built on the territory of Turkmenistan which originates from the country’s largest deposits of Southern Yoloten and ends near the coast of the Caspian Sea.

Experts believe that ‘resource ensuring’ of Nabucco by Turkmenistan is of interest not only to potential customers in Europe, but also Turkey, as a recipient and transit facilitator, as well as Azerbaijan, on which in particular, on its Caspian oil fields, the consortium members rely.

Baku will be able to receive long term significant profit for the transit. Turkmen oil has already been actively and successfully transported via Azerbaijani ports.

As for the route, the northern part of the South Caspian basin is stable. So it’s better to lay gas pipelines between the cities of Turkmenbashi and Baku, as the Caspian Sea there is quite shallow and not so wide.

Do you have any feedback? Contact our journalist at agency@trend.az

Yemen War Working-Out Just the Way CIA Had It Planned

Yemen claims it recaptured the southern town of Jaar from al-Qaida but the situation could still drag the United States into another war against militant Islam.
Yemeni soldiers stand guard as men wait to cast their votes during the presidential elections at a polling center in Sanaa, Yemen on February 21, 2012. The election brought an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year hardline rule in Yemen, the first Arab state where a revolt ended in a negotiated settlement. UPI/Mohammad Abdullah 
License photo

SANAA, Yemen, June 12 (UPI) — Yemen’s army claims it has recaptured the southern town of Jaar from al-Qaida in a U.S.-backed offensive to crush the jihadists and their allies in which the Americans risk being dragged into another war against militant Islam.

In recent weeks, Yemen forces, heavily backed by U.S. intelligence, Special Forces and airborne strikes, have claimed to have pushed back the forces of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula across the south.

On Tuesday, the Defense Ministry in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, announced the army had retaken Jaar, killing at least 20 militants and driving out others.

AQAP’s local subsidiary, Ansar al-Shariah, captured Jaar in March 2011. In the months that followed, the jihadists had established six so-called caliphates in the ever-restive south, in Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province, Lawdar, Maudia, Shaqra, Azzan and al Houta.

Jaar, with a history of deep Islamic fundamentalism, was the centerpiece of Ansar al-Shariah’s rise to power.

If the town has indeed fallen, it will mark a major — and badly needed — victory for Yemeni President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi. But there’s a long way to go yet.

Hadi, with U.S. and Saudi backing, replaced the Machiavellian Ali Abdullah Saleh, in February. Saleh, who had played both ends against the middle with the Americans and al-Qaida, had headed a brutal and corrupt dictatorship for three decades and eventually Washington decided he had to go.

Hadi has been trying to purge the military of Saleh’s relatives, with some success, but the army is now divided.

Ultimately, Hadi is the Americans’ creature and they have little choice but to back him and if that means bumping off his enemies as well as al-Qaida, Washington’s primary target, so be it.

Hence the ever-growing involvement of U.S. Special Forces and the CIA in Yemen, where the Saudi and the Iranians are fighting their particular war as well.

It has got to the point that U.S. President Barack Obama has had to send in Special Forces teams to stiffen Hadi’s forces.

Washington has tried to do this quietly but, as usual, such subterfuges are revealed and the growing U.S. involvement in Yemen, a country bound for economic and social collapse, has raised fears of U.S. involvement in yet another war.

The Americans see Yemen “as an incubator of transnational terrorist plots with AQAP being thought of as al-Qaida Central’s most potent franchise,” analyst Derek Hendry Flood wrote in Asia Times Online.

The group has made at least three unsuccessful attempts to bomb the United States or blow up U.S. airliners in flight.

The Americans consider the key figure in all three attacks to be Ibrahim al-Asiri, a Saudi and AQAP’s highly innovative bombmaker who in two instances was able to get his devices past all security controls onto aircraft.

A third bomb, constructed entirely out of materials unlikely to trigger alarms, was only found because the man chosen to carry it was an undercover Saudi intelligence asset who exposed the operation.

U.S. officials fear that one of these days, al-Asiri or another AQAP innovator, is going to get lucky and wipe out a lot of Americans.

Analyst Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York think tank, reported in early May that “there have been more drone strikes in the past month — 17 — than in the preceding nine years, since the first strike on Nov. 3, 2002.

“In the meantime, there have been between 10 and 50 other U.S. attacks on militants in Yemen using manned aircraft or naval platforms.”

Zenko noted: “According to U.S, officials, there is no daylight between armed militants seeking to overthrow Hadi and terrorists working to strike the American homeland.”

The CFR warned that “drone strikes could ultimately unite these disparate groups behind a common banner that opposes both the Hadi regime and … the United States.

“It would be easy for the U.S. military and CIA to become a Yemeni counterinsurgency air force for the Hadi regime …”

As has happened in Pakistan, “the average Yemeni will eventually come to resent a foreign military that repeatedly attacks its territory,” Zenko wrote.

“The current eliminationist, uncompromising counterterrorism mission in Yemen is not delivering results, but it is unlikely that the Obama administration, in alliance with the Hadi regime, will change course anytime soon.

“In the words of President Hadi, the “hunting of terrorists is irreversible’.”

US forces prepare to get their asses handed to them again in Nuristan

Comrades block their ears as an Afghan National Army soldier fires a Dushka machine gun towards Taliban positions from Blocking Position one above Kamdesh in Afghanistan's Nuristan Province June 11, 2012. REUTERS-Tim Wimborne

By Rob Taylor

KAMDESH, Afghanistan | Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:09am EDT

(Reuters) – – U.S. troops returned to the area in Afghanistan they call the “dark side of the moon” this week, a remote Hindu Kush region that controls several access routes to Kabul and where the coalition suffered one of its biggest reverses in the decade-long war.

This part of Nuristan province, in the mountainous far east of Afghanistan, could be the target of a planned Taliban offensive, coalition commanders say.

Carrying “speedballs” – black body bags packed with mortars, ammunition and heavy machine guns – a company of U.S. soldiers landed by helicopter on a narrow ridge and trudged up to a tiny Afghan army post overlooking icy peaks and plunging river valleys, as hostile as breathtaking.

With U.S. intelligence pointing to a possible attack by as many as 1,800 Taliban, the soldiers set up weapons over a backyard-sized square, while Afghan army soldiers in camouflage and plastic sandals pointed out fires and torchlight in the distance in the chill night air.

“We’ll get some eyes overhead to check it out. If it’s Taliban, we’ll get a plane up in the morning and drop a bomb on it,” said U.S. Major Jared Bordwell as some of his men from the 1-12 Infantry Regiment dropped down in the dust and tried to get some sleep.

American soldiers withdrew from Nuristan, or the “land of light”, after around 300 insurgents overran an isolated combat outpost near Kamdesh village – below where Bordwell’s men were huddled – on October 3, 2009, killing eight soldiers and wounding 22.

The former U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, decided in 2010 to give up remote combat outposts and shift American troops to protect larger population centers.

But it was through here that the Taliban shifted men and weapons for a suicide assault on Kabul’s diplomatic and government quarter in April, circling beyond the reach of U.S. and Afghan army positions to the south in neighboring Kunar province, coalition commanders say.

With Nuristan now a Taliban staging post and haven, the province is a vital pocket for U.S. forces based in Kunar, with only a few hundred Afghan soldiers and police over an area of 5,800 square km.

“Nuristan remains for me a challenge, a black hole. My line in the sand stops at the Kunar and Nuristan borders,” said Lt-Colonel Scott Green, a wiry former Ranger who oversees Nuristan.

But he will not be in the region for long – NATO troops are due to be withdrawn from north Kunar by October. Green and his men, who are based in Kunar and in Nuristan temporarily, will be among those withdrawn.

So his reduced-strength 1st battalion has to counter insurgents while simultaneously building Afghan capability and “retrograding” – closing up U.S. bases – all within months.

It is one of the most hostile areas in war-torn Afghanistan in a landscape that is equally hostile. Taliban and al Qaeda fighters pass through easily, from either Pakistan or from bases located out of easy NATO reach inside a 4 km-wide border buffer zone.

As many as 2,500 Taliban are thought to be in the province, controlling most districts, and around 300 are foreign, mostly Pakistanis or Chechens, Afghan commanders say.

The insurgents control what few roads there are and have three ways to move deeper into Afghanistan, through either the Kunar, Waygal or Parun valleys, which then wind down into provinces nearer to Kabul.

UP AT DAWN

The next day, Bordwell’s soldiers were up in their body armor and crouched over guns at 4 a.m. to repel a dawn attack that did not happen. Then, they started to coach Afghan soldiers in everything from weapons care to their own health.

The sand-bagged positions became insufferably hot as the sun rose, while the translucent mountain stone underfoot flaked and crumbled to a glittering dust that glued itself to weapons and bodies, as unstable as the province’s security.

“Tell them to drink water. They will get dehydrated in body armor,” said one U.S. officer to a nodding Afghan interpreter.

Bordwell’s soldiers have come back to Kamdesh under a shift this year in NATO’s strategic focus from the Taliban’s southern heartlands to target supply routes and havens in the east, and also to back a former enemy turned warlord ally.

The fighting season began early this year in what has been called Afghanistan’s “lost” province after the Taliban turned against former Hezb-e Islami insurgent and local strongman, Mawlawi Sadeq, who has aligned his militia with the government.

Sadeq, still listed on U.S. government ‘capture or kill’ lists, turned up with seven other local elders to attend a ‘shura’ meeting with Bordwell and the accompanying U.S. mentor to Afghan forces, Lt-Colonel Rocky Burrell.

“We are happy with you guys coming here and listening to our problems. Our government is not doing anything,” said the aging warlord.

“If you are able to support us with heavy weapons it will be very good. I don’t think there would be any bad guys anymore.”

AIRSTRIKES AND GEMS

Burrell, a veteran of years of U.S. special forces operations in Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador and Colombia, says securing Nuristan would probably take thousands of Afghan soldiers that the government does not have, even though it is one of the country’s most mineral-rich provinces.

An Afghan militia member, Mohammad Ghazi, arrived at the post to have a bullet wound on the back of his head treated by U.S. medics and warned local people were deeply worried about the American pullout from Kunar and the entire country in 2014.

“There are a lot of Taliban around. If the (U.S.) supports the Afghan government it will be very good in future. If not, it will be worse,” Ghazi said.

As the hours passed, Bordwell called air strikes on Taliban fighting positions, with Apache helicopter gunships firing incendiary white phosphorous rockets into caves on a mountainside thought to hide an insurgent gun position.

As forest fires continued to burn from the strikes, a U.S. warplane dropped two bombs on a ridge across the valley, while soldiers hurled mortar shells onto river rapids where Afghan troops believe the Taliban like to gather.

TALIBAN CONTROL

Green acknowledged the Taliban controlled most of the districts within his nominal Nuristan command, which he sees from his north Kunar battalion command at Forward Operating Base Bostick as a line of snow-covered peaks on the horizon.

“I would not disagree with that. The hard part is that while you can say they are Taliban-controlled, that’s only because there is such a limited (U.S. security) presence up there,” he said.

Outside, the thump of outgoing 120mm mortar fire shook his headquarters, a low collection of white-washed huts beside a river flanked by vaulting, folded hills known as “rocket ridge”.

The terrain was proving as difficult for the Taliban as for the NATO-led coalition, Green said. The infamous Nuristan rebel commander Dos Mohammad – who led the attack on Combat Outpost Keating in the 2009 Battle of Kamdesh – had now reportedly moved south into Kunar, he said.

“There’s good and bad there for us. The good is he’s out of Nuristan. The bad is he’s a guy who made a name at COP Keating for rallying insurgents and overrunning U.S. bases,” Green said.

There were signs, though, in northern Kunar – another long-time insurgent supply route and stronghold – that were cause for hope ahead of the American pullback, Green said.

Insurgents have been mostly pushed away from the flashpoint Saw Valley in the south, a traditional Taliban supply inroad, and divisions between different militant groups in other areas that led to an insurgent crossfire.

Green was confident security by Afghan forces would be possible in parts of his command within the two years before NATO’s combat exit, but said securing all of Nuristan would remain difficult.

“I think we can transition in Kunar,” he said. “But if we were to try and expand without increased combat power there, then yes, I do think that we would be spread so thin that it would start to break.”

(Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Saudis snub Russian trade delegation

Saudis snub Russian trade delegation

Gulf News

Saudi trade bodies refuse to meet Russian businessmen

  • By Habib Toumi

Manama: Two Saudi trade bodies have refused to receive a Russian delegation to protest Moscow’s support to the Syrian regime.

“The Russian delegation was not official and comprised seven businessmen,” Abdullah Bin Mahfoodh, member of the Chamber of Commerce in Jeddah. “They were in Saudi Arabia to visit some trade shows and they asked their consulate in Jeddah to coordinate a visit to the chambers of commerce in Riyadh and Jeddah,” he told local Arabic daily Al Sharq.

The delegation visited the Jeddah trade body where they were received by employees, but they did not meet any businessman, he said, adding that four of the members were Muslims and they performed Umrah.

Makkah, where Muslims perform Umrah and Haj (pilgrimage), is about 70 kilometres from the Red Sea resort of Jeddah.

Ben Mahfood attributed the “lack of interest” of the Jeddah commerce chamber in organizing a meeting between Saudi and Russian businessmen to Moscow’s support to the Syrian regime.

A statement from the chamber denied remarks posted on social networks about an official Saudi reception for the delegation despite Moscow’s siding with the Syrian regime.

“The delegation members were received by the head of directorate, but there was never an official meeting with any of the chamber leaders,” it said. Thousands of Saudis launched an online campaign against the planned Saudi Russian meeting and used popular networks to denounce it, saying that it was a source of shame.

Last week, Saud Al Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, said that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states were losing hope that a peace plan spearheaded by United Nations and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan could put an end to violence in Syria.

Al Faisal said that Russia needed to change its stance on Syria.

“The time has come for Russia to change its stance from supporting the Syrian regime to working to stop the killing and (supporting) a peaceful transition of power,” he said at a news conference.

Ahmad Al Ghamdi, the head of the chamber media centre, said. They remained committed to the official Saudi Arabian position on the matter.

“Saudi businessmen have turned down all invitations by their Russian counterparts to take part in common activities,” he said, quoted by the daily.

The Russians arrived in Saudi Arabia through an invitation by a private company and the chamber had no role in granting them the necessary papers, he said.

“The limited reception went ahead only after we made sure that some of the visitors represented Muslim areas,” he said.

Abdul Rahman Al Jaraisi, the head of the chamber of commerce in Riyadh, said that the cancellation of the meeting with the Russian delegation was “an expression of compassion with the brotherly people of Syria and a protest against the Russian position on what is happening there.”

“We refused to meet because we wanted to convey the message from the Saudi business community and from Saudi Arabia that we have reservations about the unfair and unjust way they have been dealing with Syria,” he told Al Sharq. “Russia will be the greatest loser and if they stop exporting iron or wheat, we will not lose anything. There are Saudi substitutes for the iron and several other countries are ready to export to us iron and wheat,” he said.