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The truth about Israel, Iran and 1980s U.S. arms deals

The truth about Israel, Iran and 1980s U.S. arms deals

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Recently declassified Pentagon documents reveal a strange, not to say illicit, 1980s operation called ‘Tipped Kettle,’ in which weapons stolen by Israel from the PLO in Lebanon were transferred to the Contras and to anti-American elements in Iran

IDF soldiers Lebanon war IDF Spokesman's Office

IDF soldiers with weapons captured during the first day of the Lebanon war. Photo by IDF Spokesman’s Office
Amir Oren

Amir Oren

The collection of declassified documents published two weeks ago by the Pentagon reveals infighting among branches of the U.S. administration and intrigues in foreign countries – including 1980s’ Israel. The impression one gets is not especially positive. The Americans are publishing the documents now not because they are trying somehow to suggest to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu how he should behave, but because the law obligates them to reveal records in due course following a review, unless there is a genuine reason to keep them secret. In the aforesaid period Netanyahu served as deputy to Moshe Arens, when he was Israel’s ambassador to Washington, D.C. (1982-83 ). Arens’ staff then also included Gen. Menachem Meron, the military attache in Washington, and spokesman Nachman Shai. Arens and his aides constituted an island of sanity in their relations with the administration of U.S. President Ronald Reagan, at a time of hostility in the U.S. capital toward the government of Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon.

The recently revealed documents deal with an operation dubbed “Tipped Kettle,” involving weapons the Israel Defense Forces looted from the Palestine Liberation Organization during Operation Peace for Galilee in Lebanon, and their transfer to the Contras – opponents of the socialistic Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. That was the first episode, of rather questionable legality according to U.S. law, in a more complex story whose second installment, in 1985-1986, became known as the Iran-Contra scandal. Part II was patently illegal – a blatant effort by the White House to violate a Congressional order and to cook up a strange deal involving the sale of American weapons (originally supplied to the IDF ) to anti-American Iran, for use in its war with Iraq; the release of Western hostages being held in Lebanon by Iranian-controlled Hezbollah; and the financing of Contras’ activities thanks to the difference between the sum paid by the Iranians and the true value of the weapons – minus a profit for those engaged in the deal.

By the end of that decade, during the trial of U.S. Marine Col. Oliver North and other officials in the Reagan administration, charged with deceiving Congress and providing false testimony to a special prosecutor, Operation Tipped Kettle was also briefly mentioned in the court proceedings. Now, however, the whole picture has come into view, with its emphasis on the behavior on the Israeli side.

In the fall of 1982, Reagan’s secretary of defense, Caspar Weinberger, was trying to implement a policy intended to combat pro-Soviet elements in Latin America, including the Sandinistas. Even more belligerent than he was CIA director William Casey. The CIA had direct intelligence connections with the Mossad, but in the affair of the captured weapons the American agency preferred to hide behind the Pentagon. The system of communication between the CIA and the Pentagon was called Focal Point; it had been used to facilitate connections between them since the mid-1950s. Officially, Israel was unaware then that the weapons taken from the PLO would be used not by the U.S. Army in its training bases, but rather to arm the Contras.

Though the Republicans controlled the White House at the time, the Democrats controlled Congress. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Edward Boland, achieved a majority for a series of bills named for him, which limited the administration’s ability to help the Contras. In one of the bills, passed in the fall of 1984, all U.S. intelligence agencies were prohibited from any such activity. (North tried to outsmart the law, claiming, after he came under investigation, that the National Security Council, which coordinated the operations, was not an intelligence agency. )

The legislation meant, in effect, that without the specific approval of Congress, no money could be formally budgeted in this case. Therefore, Casey, North and their colleagues had to use subterfuge to supply the arms, for example, by way of “donations” from foreign countries – Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Brunei – or circuitous deals with South Korea, Taiwan, China and especially Israel. The loot captured from the PLO during the war, at a cost of hundreds of Israeli dead, was particularly suitable for use by the Contras. And if Kalashnikov rifles fell into the hands of the Sandinistas, there would have been fewer questions about its source.

‘No policy problem’

The first of the Pentagon documents concerning Operation Tipped Kettle was sent by Weinberger to Casey on November 17, 1982. The subject: rifles, machine guns and light mortars for infantry fighters “captured by Israeli forces in Lebanon.” The Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency “can offer assistance in helping to acquire significant amounts of these types of weapons presently available in Lebanon.” The letter didn’t say from whom exactly the weapons would be purchased – from the Christian Phalange forces, from other organizations or from Palestinians in areas outside IDF control. The State Department, added Weinberger, had “no policy problem with this effort as long as it is not publicized.”

“In a separate action, our efforts to obtain captured weapons directly from the Israeli government have been delayed while their military attache, MG Meron, is out of the Washington area. He should return within the next few days and the subject will be raised at that time … We are prepared to meet your request through the Focal Point System,” wrote Weinberger.

In March 1983, four months later, Weinberger sent Casey a second letter, declaring, “I am glad to report significant progress.” In February, back in Israel, the Kahan Commission of inquiry report on the massacres in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut was submitted, as a consequence of which Ariel Sharon was dismissed as defense minister. At that point, staff from the embassy in Washington took over at the ministry in Tel Aviv: Arens was at the top, Meron became director general, and Shai was media adviser.

Weinberger reported that “a joint DoD/CIA survey team visited Israel and was shown about 300 metric tons of captured weapons and ammunition suitable for your purposes. Shortly after Ambassador Arens became the new Israeli MOD, the DoD was informed that these weapons would be provided to the U.S. at a small percentage of their market value. This charge, which I understand will be agency funded, would only be for packing and handling and is anticipated to be in the neighborhood of $100,000. My staff is in the process of setting up the movement of these weapons to the U.S. Due to the weight and bulk of these items they will have to be moved by surface transport and thereby will not be available until the May/June timeframe.”

That same day, the U.S. Navy was instructed to provide transport for “military items … that will be shipped from the Israeli port of Ashdod … to the East Coast of the United States.”

Weinberger updated Casey: “The shipment will be available for CIA pickup” and “can remain packed in the 34 Land/Sea containers until reaching their destination. The Land/Sea containers are the property of the Government of Israel and will need to be … returned to Israel.”

The shipment included 20,000 rifles and submachine guns, 1,000 machine guns, 90 recoil-less rifles, 110 mortars, 1,000 hand grenades and a large amount of ammunition. “The then newly appointed Israeli minister of defense, Moshe Arens, made the final decision that these weapons were to be provided on a gratis basis to DoD. This was one of MOD Arens’ first actions … and was clearly a signal of his desire to improve U.S./Israel relations,” according to the Pentagon documents.

Israel, with one-time and well-calculated generosity, did not lose much money here: In the 1980s, private arms dealers sold similar Kalashnikov rifles, made in Yugoslavia, for $210 each. The market value of all the Kalashnikovs in the shipment in question was only about $4 million; 60-mm. mortars were sold for about $1,500 and 81-mm. mortars for about $5,000.

Added costs

A year later, the CIA’s appetite was whetted again; now there were additional factors in the equation. Weinberger’s new undersecretary for international security, Richard Armitage, became a close friend and regular visitor of the new military attache, Gen. Uri Simhoni; the same was true of Weinberger’s senior military assistant, Gen. Colin Powell.

In June 1984, Weinberger received a memo from Armitage describing the process by which the looted weapons had been transferred a year earlier. Armitage mentioned that the mission was accomplished as a result of talks between Maj. Gen. Richard Secord and Meron, and a decision by Arens. In February 1984 the Pentagon was asked to find out whether there were additional weapons available in Israel “under the same financial terms” – i.e., “available for operational use at little or no cost.” In contacts with the Israeli government a few months earlier, in March, it turned out that there were additional weapons stolen from the PLO caches, including Katyushas and anti-aircraft weapons, but that they were “for sale.” A joint Pentagon-CIA survey delegation, headed by the liaison officer with Israel (whose name is erased, apparently a Col. Forster ), went to Israel to examine the items.

“Contacts with the GOI,” noted Armitage dryly, “revealed that they had placed a value of over $77M on these weapons, while DoD sources estimated the cost of the weapons at around $27M.” Or, according to another estimate, $35 million. The head of the U.S. Army Museum, an expert on Soviet weapons, estimated the value at only $17 million.

Armitage’s deputy, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Edward Tixier, Secord’s successor, was traveling to Israel to discuss a different matter and said he would speak privately to director general Meron to discuss transferring the second collection of captured weapons to the Pentagon at little or no cost. If Tixier succeeded, the weapons could arrive in the U.S. at the end of July and be sent immediately to the CIA.

Prior to the Armitage-Simhoni meeting on May 24, Armitage wrote to a liaison officer subordinate to him that “the chances of the U.S. ever obtaining these weapons is poor if they are not in our possession by July 23, 1984 (the date of the upcoming Israeli election ). Our contacts in the Israel MOD (to include both Mr. Arens and Gen. Meron ) could be gone the following day, and establishing relations with new players could be time-consuming.”

According to the recently declassified documents, Israeli activity was frozen at the time, because of “the confusion in the GOI over what direction U.S. policy in Central America is heading and the role that Israel can and should play in relation to the topic. If you feel that timing is right you may which to discuss the issue of payment for these weapons. Because Israeli funds would have to be found to cover specific project related costs (packing, crating, shipping ), we should offer to pay these line items. We should not offer to pay anything for the weapons for two reasons: the weapons will be used to further Western interests, and in the grand scheme of U.S./Israeli relations, a good will gesture on the part of Israel (at a low dollar cost for them ) would be most helpful with the GOI is requesting U.S. assistance on major projects such as funding for the new SAAR-5 missile-attack boat, the Lavi, the F-4 upgrade, the upgrading of the Merkava tank, and the usage of FMS funds off-shore, to mention a few.

“Prior to moving any of this equipment, there needs to be a lead time of several weeks, so that our EOD [explosive ordnance disposal] and logistics people can do the planning required to make this operation work. There is no time to spare if we are to complete this effort prior to Israeli elections.”

In order to save time, Meron suggested that packing of the weaponry begin – this time, over 100 containers were needed – while internal consultation in Israel continued.

The Arens-Meron camp, the Americans reported to their dispatchers, had two problems: IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Levi, eager to speed up the withdrawal of the IDF from Lebanon, gave top priority to establishing a security zone and therefore also arming of the forces of Saad Hadad – which became the South Lebanon Army – with the weapons in question. The IDF’s security assistance unit, headed by Col. (res. ) Zvi Reuter, and foreign relations department, demanded monetary compensation. Above all, the clock was ticking: Soon there would be a new Knesset and perhaps a new defense minister, who would bring in a new director general.

In the last telegram from Tel Aviv, bearing the censored signature of the liaison officer, there is an hour-by-hour description of the consultations, maneuvering and bargaining: hints that the price could be reduced if a way could be found to increase the aid; anger in the Pentagon at the Israeli chutzpah; examination of alternatives; encrypted telegrams from the embassy; bridging proposals; a “gentlemen’s agreement” without signatures.

The elections came and went and the race between Labor, headed by Shimon Peres, and Likud, headed by Yitzhak Shamir, ended in a tie. A week later, before the Peres-Shamir government was formed, Arens signed an approval of the transaction: Weapons worth $30 million to $40 million in exchange for the expectation of an increase in military assistance. Arens was forced to vacate the ministry in favor of Yitzhak Rabin, who like him was pro-American, but Meron remained in the post of director general for two more years.

The Tipped Kettle papers end with an internal memo, with no addressees or signatories, which was written on the day the Iran-Contra affair was exposed, in November 1986. It reports that Reuter, the head of security assistance , complained that the debt for the second transaction had yet to be paid. The complaint was examined in the Pentagon and it revealed an astonishing finding. The Israeli military attache’s office in Washington and the international branch of the Defense Department had reached a secret arrangement: In return for Israel waiving the payment, the U.S. defense contractor Numax was to retain its security clearance and government contracts after being purchased by Israel.

What the officers and ministers, the officials and ambassadors are doing in secret today will be revealed, thanks to the Americans in another 25 years.

CIA Chickens Come Home To Roost–‘Phoenix jihadist’s’ dad claims son worked in Syria for CIA

‘Phoenix jihadist’s’ dad claims son worked in Syria for CIA

Russia-Today

Photo from facebook.com/eric.harroun

As US Army veteran Eric Harroun awaits trial in Virginia for allegedly fighting alongside al-Qaeda supporters, the man’s father claims he was working for the CIA and was reporting back to the agency from Syria.

Harroun, a 30-year-old American from Phoenix, Arizona, has been charged by the US government for conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction (namely a rocket propelled grenade launcher) to conduct an attack against the Syrian government. The US Army veteran dubbed by media ‘Phoenix jihadist’ appeared in numerous videos alongside members of the al-Nusra Front, designated by the State Department as a terrorist organization in December, but which has also been fighting alongside the Syrian opposition to take down the Assad regime. To date, 29 US-backed Syrian opposition groups have linked with al-Nusra, and have signed a petition calling for the support of the Islamist group that the White House believes is a branch of al-Qaeda.

Photo from facebook.com/eric.harroun

According to FBI documents, Harroun traveled to Turkey last November and joined the fight led by the Free Syrian Army shortly thereafter. His father, Darryl Harroun, on Thursday told reporters that he doesn’t understand why the US government arrested his son, who he says was working for the Central Intelligence Agency.

He referred to his son as a ‘patriotic’ American who would never get involved with al-Qaeda, and claims he was  gathering information for the US government.

“I know he was doing some work for the CIA over there,”  the man’s father said. “I know for a fact that he was passing information onto the CIA.”

After seeing the documents regarding his son’s charges, Harroun told a CBS News reporter that it is all inaccurate and misleading and that the truth will eventually come out, since his son was simply gathering intelligence.

“About 99 percent of that stuff that you read on there is a bunch of bull,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any truth in any of this – he’s very patriotic”

The CIA is known to have contributed to the opposition fighters’ initiatives in Syria. Last week, the New York Times published an article describing how the agency has allegedly been helping foreign governments contribute to the Free Syrian Army. Unnamed US officials told the paper that the CIA has been secretly airlifting arms and other military equipment to Arab governments and Turkey, who provided them to the country’s opposition fighters.

With the agency’s alleged involvement in the conflict, some believe it is very possible for the CIA to also have sent their own agents into Syria. Paul Joseph Watson suggests on InfoWars that Harroun’s arrest may have something to do with the lack of communication and rivalry between the FBI and the CIA.

The FBI affidavit makes no mention of Harroun having any sort of connection to the CIA, but includes transcripts of interviews in which the man describes being treated like a prisoner in the al-Nusra camp and eventually being accepted by the members. Soon thereafter, he was helping them conduct several attacks on the Syrian regime. He also recalled being questioned about why the US government designated the group as a terrorist organization.

Photo from facebook.com/eric.harroun

But the FBI is worried that while he may have gone into Syria with good intentions, he may also have become radicalized. A main component of the affidavit focuses on a Facebook status Harroun allegedly posted, in which he states that “the only good Zionist is a dead Zionist.”

But the man did not seem to try to hide any of his acitivities in Syria. He frequently uploaded pictures of himself in the conflict zone and made opinionated statements regarding the Assad regime. He allowed journalists to interview him over Skype and labeled himself as a “freedom fighter”, working on behalf of the opposition movement that the US supports.

His alleged CIA involvement has so far only been mentioned by the man’s father, but could play a major part in the case as Harroun awaits trial. He faces a maximum of life imprisonment.

Minorities in Pakistan and Islam–(deleted from Dawn)

Minorities in Pakistan and Islam

dawn

THE Badami Bagh incident shocked the whole country. A mob radically and illicitly destroyed many houses and shops of Christians on the basis of alleged blasphemy.

Since the implementation of the blasphemy law, many members of minority communities, particularly Christians, have been killed and thousands have been forced to leave the country.

The assassination of Salmaan Taseer was also shocking for the entire world, and even secular Islamic scholars and statesmen preferred not to speak. This further created a situation of complete despondency amongst minorities.

More shockingly the government and authorities concerned did nothing to stop the wrath in the name of blasphemy against the minorities. The government and the media need to stand up and do their respective jobs sincerely.

Islam’s real peaceful image should be implemented and a few countable anti-peace and anti-human people should not be allowed to destroy the image of the country and image of Islam for their vested interests.

Thomas Carlyle in his book Hero and Hero Worship had truly presented the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) as the most exemplary peace-loving personality in the history of mankind.

Hence, we need to present the true picture of Islam and the Holy Prophet, and those countable fanatics should be mutilated and obliterated before they take their roots deep.

SAJJAD RUSTAMANI
Hyderabad

U.S. Army Veteran Charged For Helping Al-Qaeda Terrorists Try To Overthrow Syrian Regime

U.S. army veteran charged for conspiring with Al-Qaeda group to topple Syrian regime

YouTubeEric Harroun of Phoenix was charged Thursday in federal court in northern Virginia with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the U.S. He appears in an online video in which he celebrates bringing down a helicopter in Syria.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A U.S. Army veteran is charged with conspiring with an Al-Qaeda group to wage war against the Syrian regime.

Eric Harroun of Phoenix was charged Thursday in federal court in northern Virginia with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the U.S. An affidavit states Harroun has been engaged in military action in Syria, siding with rebel forces against the Syrian government. It says he used rocket-propelled grenades in the fighting earlier this year.

On his Facebook page, he claimed credit for downing a Syrian helicopter.

Prosecutors say one of the groups with which Harroun, dubbed “The American” served is the al-Nusrah Front, which is commonly known as al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Harroun has made an initial court appearance. A public defender was appointed to represent him in a detention hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Harroun served in the military from 2000 to 2003 and was medically discharged after he was in a car accident, the court affidavit reads. A video posted to YouTube and Facebook, and referenced in the affidavit, appears to show Harroun celebrating shooting down a helicopter in Syria.

Harroun also posted photos to Facebook of himself holding machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Darryl, Harroun’s father, told FoxNews.com that his son wasn’t raised Muslim and he’s worried he’ll soon receive a phone call telling him his son is dead.

“We scratch our heads and wonder what the hell he’s doing. I told him, ‘You’re never going to change those people’s minds over there,’” Darryl told FoxNews.com from Arizona.

“But he says they treat him like a hero.”

With files from National Post staff

Bloomberg Pushing for Drone-Filled Manhattan Sky

A New York police state of mind: Bloomberg’s vision of a drone-filled city doesn’t fly

the verge

The world’s most powerful mayor welcomes ‘visibility’ — just not in city hall

By Joshua Kopstein

drone lede

Taking a break from his crusade against sugary soft drinks, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg took some time during his weekly radio broadcast last week to downplay an issue that’s been at the forefront of privacy concerns in a growing number of US states: the use of unmanned aerial drones for ubiquitous police surveillance. “What’s the difference whether the drone is up in the air or on the building?” asked an incredulous Bloomberg, now in the final months of his heavily-lobbied third term in office. “I mean, intellectually I have trouble making that distinction.”

The comparison seems especially tone-deaf as lawmakers and citizens in other cities across the US continue efforts to block the use of drones by law enforcement for general surveillance. In Seattle, the public outcry has already derailed plans to introduce police drones, and in Florida, a bill currently sailing through the State Senate would require law enforcement to have probable cause warrants before using drones. 22 other states are in various stages of passing similar legislation; Virginia legislators have even gone as far as approving a bill that will put a two year moratorium on drones altogether.

The furor helps underscore that, yes, there is a huge differences between cameras in the streets and drones in the skies. “Many privacy invasions are abstract and invisible […] Drones, on the other hand, are concrete and real, and the threat requires no explanation,” wrote the ACLU’s Catherine Crump and Jay Stanley. “But they are just the most visible example of a host of new surveillance technologies that have the potential to fundamentally alter the balance of power between individuals and the state.”

The NYPD’s “Domain Awareness System” has around 3,000 cameras

In New York City, that balance has already been disrupted. Currently, the NYPD’s surveillance network is comprised of around 3,000 street-level cameras in Manhattan, connected to its loudly-trumpeted and Orwellian-sounding “Domain Awareness System.” The system combines real-time CCTV feeds with data from various other sources, including 911 calls and CompStat crime prevention software, which uses statistics to algorithmically identify areas where crimes are likely to occur and dispatches police accordingly. NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly announced last week that a citywide license plate reading program will soon be integrated into the $30 million system as well, allowing police to track practically all vehicle movements with unprecedented speed and efficiency. All video footage collected in this way is retained up to 30 days, and all other data can be kept for up to 5 years.

Dsc_5443

Before 9/11, the prelude to this massive surveillance expansion was VIPER, a collaboration in the late 90s between the NYPD and New York City Housing Authority which installed hundreds of police surveillance cameras inside low-income public housing. In the following years, police triumphantly cited a 36 percent reduction in crime in the housing projects they monitored. The stats were largely accepted, but a wider look revealed that crime had actually fallen overall in New York City during that decade, and so this drop might be the result of macro factors, not the new cameras. Further investigation by the Government Accountability Office was also unable to establish a direct link between surveillance cameras and reduced crime.

Even in the heavily-monitored UK, the country whose 2012 Olympic mascot was a cartoon surveillance camera, evidence has been spotty. In 2008, Scotland Yard solved only one crime for every 1,000 CCTV cameras within London’s infamous “Ring of Steel,” which was created to combat a series of IRA bombings in the early 90s. The most commonly-cited independent study counts one CCTV camera for every 14 people in England (with the British Home Office estimating much lower). However, numerous factors have complicated any attempt at proving whether they are an effective deterrent. Some research has suggested that surveillance cameras often displace crime into the space outside of their influence rather than help solve or prevent it. David Davies, a Conservative Member of the British Parliament, has lamented that London’s massive camera population “creates a huge intrusion on privacy, yet provides little or no improvement in security.”

Whether or not these systems are truly effective, their potential effects on privacy vastly differ from those of a surveillance drone hovering above a city. For one, the NYPD’s system does not include the vast majority of the city’s cameras, the privately owned units commonly affixed to the outsides of buildings. And even then, it’s difficult to make the argument that a network of stationary street-level cameras compares to “wide-area persistent surveillance” technologies like ARGUS-IS, the DARPA-developed drone surveillance system made from hacked-together cellphone camera sensors which can identify and track a person as they move across an entire city (the NYPD is already employing a lesser form of Argus camera in their CCTV network).

“I just don’t see how you can stop them.”

Bloomberg, one of the world’s richest men who rules over one of the most intensely policed cities on earth, should know this more than anyone. But with a strategically placed “fuggedaboutit,” he disregards civil problems regarding privacy that his police force has probably long seen as administrative solutions.

“We’re going to have more visibility and less privacy […] you can’t keep the tide from coming in,” he said ominously, resigned to a supposedly inevitable scenario where drones constantly patrol the skies. “It’s not a matter of whether I think it’s good or bad. I just don’t see how you can stop them.”

Nypd_drone_posters

The sudden doom-and-gloom is ironic, considering how just last September, the NYPD spared no expense in tracking down and arresting Essam Attia, the street artist who posted fake NYPD “drone” billboards across the city, hoping to start a conversation about this very issue. The case was pursued vigorously by NYPD forensics and counter-terrorism teams, eventually serving Attia with 56 felony counts for the short-lived, politically-motivated vandalism. It’s as if somewhere in the past few months, we’ve gone from please remove your tin-foil hats to Bloomberg’s constant droning is inevitable — get used to it.

Is the situation really so hopeless? Perhaps. But it’s certainly easier to think so when you preside over a paramilitary police force that frequently receives healthy doses of grant money from the US Department of Homeland Security to implement such surveillance programs. For years the NYPD has been using those resources to do things like infiltrate Muslim communities, employing alarmingly aggressive tactics in an attempt to ensnare average citizens as “terrorist suspects.” More recently, the department has come under fire for its infamous “Stop and Frisk” program, which establishes quotas for officers to search random passersby, and overwhelmingly antagonizes black and hispanic men in low-income neighborhoods.

When Bloomberg predicts “more visibility,” he means visibility of the citizenry, not the police

But for all these various strains of snooping, Bloomberg’s NYPD has never been receptive to criticism, or demands for its own transparency. Just last week, the Mayor promised to veto a bill which would create new independent oversight of the department to investigate police misconduct. Why? According to Bloomberg, the increased oversight would “put the lives of New Yorkers and our police officers at risk,” a claim which he made no attempt to prove. So it’s again ironic, but perhaps not surprising, that when Bloomberg predicts “more visibility,” he only means more visibility of the citizenry, not the police. By its nature, police surveillance is never “transparency” — it’s a black box.

Bloomberg of all people should know that attitude won’t fly. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, usually a staunch ally of Bloomberg’s, recently declared that she has the votes to override the veto on the NYPD oversight bill. And if the legislation running through various states right now is any indication, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where Bloomberg, embracing a drone-infested surveillance state for what remains of his term, will find himself in the minority. Transparency, at very minimum, needs to be a two-way street — not an ever-present, top-down panopticon.

Cypriots patient as banks reopen, 300 Euro Limit On Withdrawals

Cypriots patient as banks reopen

news-com-au

  • AFP
cyprus banks

People gather in front of Laiki (Popula) Bank as the country’s banks re-open following 12 days of closure.

PATIENT Cypriots formed orderly queues and waited in the sun for their banks to reopen after nearly two cash-starved weeks.

Despite fears of a bank run that led the island to impose harsh capital controls, some Cypriots were even depositing money instead of withdrawing it following the closure of the banks on March 16.

The calm held despite some branches opening later than the scheduled time of 10am, with packs of foreign journalists, who in some cases outnumbered those in the queues, showing more signs of agitation than the locals themselves.

Kyriakos Vourghouri, owner of a minimarket, waved a yellow deposit slip showing an amount of 678 euros ($869) as he emerged from the bank.

“I didn’t withdraw any money. I deposited money,” he said. “The problem is not in Cyprus, it is in Europe, which has become gangrenous.”

Dozens of people queued outside the banks in Nicosia for about an hour before the opening time, which was finally announced late on Wednesday after repeated delays while Cypriot authorities tried to avert financial meltdown.

Banks posted armed guards outside many branches while tellers, who unlike in other European countries are not housed behind glass security, urged customers not to vent their frustrations on them.

Guards dished out Greek-language copies of a decree issued by Finance Minister Michalis Sarris, which imposes limits on how much of their capital they can touch, including a daily 300 euro withdrawal limit.

The calm after the storm defied the sombre predictions of one Cypriot queuing outside a branch of Laiki, or Popular bank, which will be wound up as part of the bailout deal Cyprus negotiated with its creditors.

“It will be a very bad day – there will be swearing and a lot of anger,” Philippos Philippou, an unemployed electrician wearing a purple sweatshirt, said outside Laiki in Nicosia’s Makarios Street.

But when he emerged from the bank along with his mother, Mr Philippou flashed a smile and said: “There is confidence, everything was fine.”

Around 30 people queued up outside the branch, many of them women in comfortable walking shoes ready for a long wait.

A bearded man, wearing a blue sweatshirt, who would not give his name, said: “I will take all my money slowly, slowly.”

Depositors face severe restrictions to prevent a run on the banks that could wreak havoc on the island’s already fragile economy but most put on a brave face saying there was no point in queuing when the amounts involved were so small.

“I’m not going to the bank today. I have to be in the shop these hours. There’s going to be queues so I’m not going to spend so many hours there to get 300 euros,” said Roula Spyrou, 50, a jewellery shop owner.

But along Makarios Avenue, where many designer shops and cafes have closed in the past months as the island’s debt crisis intensified, stores remained mostly empty on Thursday.

Under a deal agreed in Brussels on Monday, Cyprus must raise 5.8 billion euros to qualify for a 10-billion-euro bailout from the “troika” of the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Depositors with more than 100,000 euros in the top two banks – Bank of Cyprus (BoC) and Laiki – face losing a large chunk of their money. Laiki will be wrapped up and largely absorbed by the larger BoC.

Many customers were angry with the EU – and particularly its economic powerhouse Germany.

“Yesterday my house, tomorrow your house,” said one man.

“It’s not the European Union, it’s a German union to destroy us, everyone wants to destroy Cyprus,” said Giorgiano, a kiosk owner.

“It’s the first time I feel like this since 1974,” he added, referring to the occupation of northern Cyprus by Turkish troops.

An elderly man with white hair added: “I have a Mercedes but from now on I will never again buy anything from Germany.”

Mr Vourghouri predicted that Germany will be the biggest loser because Chancellor Angela Merkel “ignited the fire.”

“Look on the streets and you will see that 70 per cent of the cars are Mercedes and BMWs. People will stop buying them and dealerships will close one by one,” he said, adding he too will stop buying German products. “From now on I will buy from Afghanistan or Nicaragua if I have to.”

Video of Musharraf’s Surrender At Kargil

Kargil War – Pakistani Army surrenders and accepts bodies

Uploaded on Oct 30, 2006

“The Pakistani Army puts up a white flag and accepts the slain bodies of its officers in this damning video. Pakistan lost more than 4000-6000 soldiers in the Kargil war, while India lost 500 soldiers. Pakistan generally disowned the bodies of most of its soldiers but accepted a few senior officers.
According to the information fed to every Pakistani, the Kargil war was fought by mujahideen and not by Pakistani Army regulars. This video shows the Pakistan Army very clearly involved at Kargil. They did’nt count on ace videojourno Kunal Verma, filming the whole event. Nor did they count on being outclassed in combat, yet again, by an Indian.”

General Gambit

The following excerpt is taken from “Asymmetric Warfare in South Asia: The Causes and Consequences of the Kargil Conflict,” Edited by Peter R. Lavoy

http://www.amazon.com/Asymmetric-Warfare-South-Asia-Consequences/dp/0521767210#reader_0521767210

“Indians first claimed that the occupiers
were Kashmiri mujahideen. The Pakistan army intended for Indian intelligence
initially to believe that these soldiers were civilian combatants – for
this would create confusion and delay India’s eventual military response,
perhaps until well into the summer, after which there would be little time
for India to mount a suitable counterattack before the fall snows stopped
the fighting. But when the Indians persisted in believing that the intruders
were mujahideen, Pakistan simply continued the deception because it
compounded Indian confusion and took on a whole life of its own in the
Pakistani media.

Pakistan maintained the façade
after NLI soldiers had been captured and proof of their involvement was
abundant. As strange as itmay seem, the reason rests largely in the legality
of the position. The Pakistan government concluded that it could not have
admitted occupation by Pakistani troops across the LoC because the area
was demarcated under the 1972 Simla Accord and covered under the
1949 Karachi Agreement, and Pakistan’s admittance of the cross-LoC
operation was judged in Islamabad to be tantamount to admitting aggression.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office believed that an
admission of regular troops crossing the defined LoC would be difficult to
justify internationally. In its assessment, continuation of the mujahideen
story, along with a narrative that defensive positions were improved,
would preserve some degree of plausible deniability.”20

The Russian-Israeli Mafia: Off-limits to FBI, US intelligence–Wayne Madsen (7/11/2008)

[SEE: Boris Berezovsky died by hanging, police say ;  Did Russian mafia kill the body-in-a-bag spy? MI6 man  found dead in holdall in London, was developing secret technology to track gangsters’ laundered cash]

The Russian-Israeli Mafia: Off-limits to FBI, US intelligence

http://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_3479.shtml

By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Jul 11, 2008, 00:19

(WMR) — The same cancer that bankrupted the Soviet Union and the early Russian Federation, namely the Russian-Israeli Mafia — the global organized crime syndicate that uses Israeli government protection and passports to cover their illegal worldwide activities — has so thoroughly permeated the American political and business system that the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies are virtually powerless to bring the major perpetrators to justice.

Across the United States, FBI agents have been hamstrung by the Justice and Homeland Security Departments, led by two individuals, Michael Mukasey and Michael Chertoff, whose close links to the Russian-Israeli Mafia in New York and New Jersey have seen case after case involving Russian-Israeli mobsters going un-investigated and virtually ignored.

In fact, the National Security Agency (NSA), FBI, and the military intelligence services have seen their ranks of Russian linguists slashed by the Bush administration. In most cases, Russian-Israeli mobsters use their native Russian language in their telephone conversations and email communications. Only recently, perhaps owing to a shift within the Defense Department led by Robert Gates, has the NSA began re-hiring Russian linguists, although at a very slow pace.

Neo-con outlets such as The Daily Telegraph in Great Britain, which has also witnessed an infiltration of its government, law enforcement, and intelligence services by individuals linked to the Russian-Israeli mob, are now complaining that there are so many Russian Federal Security Bureau (FSB) agents in Britain that MI-6, MI-5, and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) are finding it difficult to battle “Islamist terrorists.” However, the FSB is primarily a law enforcement agency that has been waging battle against the Russian-Israeli Mafia, particularly its major backers like exiled Russian-Israeli oligarch Boris Berezovsky who have been granted protection by the British government while they plan subversive activities against Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

In fact, as seen in the poisoning of Russian ex-FSB and KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in London, there are solid links between Berezovsky, the Russian-Israeli Mafia, and Islamist guerrillas in Chechnya and abroad. However, British intelligence, which recently suffered a major blow with the strange illness that struck the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), Alex Allan, who was found in a coma and covered with blood in his Hammersmith apartment in the London suburbs, has been unable to crack down on the Russian-Israeli Mafia infiltration of Britain since the billions of pounds in dirty money has made its way into the coffers of top Labor and Conservative politicians.

Allan reportedly had plans to return to Freemantle, Australia, where he lived with his Australian-born wife before she died of cancer. Allan had been the British High Commissioner in Canberra before moving back to London to serve as JIC Chairman. As JIC Chairman, Allan coordinated the activities of MI5, MI6, and GCHQ. The last high-ranking British spy to take up residence in Australia was the late Peter Wright, whose book “Spycatcher,” detailed past secret activities of MI6 and MI5. Attempts by the Margaret Thatcher government to have the book’s publication banned in Australia were unsuccessful.

The United States is only second to Britain in infiltration by the Russian-Israeli gangsters in the highest echelons of government. The Bush administration has ignored INTERPOL arrest warrants and requests for information issued on behalf of Russia for wanted Russian-Israeli billionaires like Leonid Nevzlin, Boris Berezovsky, aka Platon Elenin (suspected by Russian authorities of links to the assassinations of Litvinenko and Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya), Arkady Gaydamak, Semyon “Sam” Kislin, Michael Chernoy, and others.

The Russian-Israeli interference in the law enforcement activities of the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have hobbled major investigations to the detriment of the national security of the United States. The FBI investigation of the assassination of retired CIA Houston station chief Roland “Tony” Carnaby, who was investigating Israeli Mossad and Russian-Israeli mob activities in the Houston area, has been relegated to a low-level and non-descript national security investigation by FBI higher ups. The DEA and FBI investigations of the activities of Israeli “art students” and “movers” in the months leading up to the 9/11 attacks were similarly stymied by the direct orders of then-FBI director Louis Freeh and Attorney General John Ashcroft, according to a major wire service journalist who covered the Justice Department. The Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), funded by wealthy Jewish American private contributors and the Israeli government, “threatened” media outlets, including the Associated Press, who continued to report on the activities of the Israeli art students and movers.

The FBI has also ignored the massive thefts of personal data of American citizens. WMR has previously reported that most of the major thefts are part of a covert operation by the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security to pick up where Iran-contra felon Admiral John Poindexter left off with his aborted Total Information Awareness (TIA) system, designed to collect the most personal details of American citizens in a massive database. A February 27, 2008, truck theft of backup data tapes from Bank of New York Mellon Corporation’s Jersey City Shareholder Services unit has the hallmarks of an organized crime heist. Shareholders of the Walt Disney Company, John Hancock Financial Services (a division of Manulife Financial Corporation), People’s United Bank of Connecticut, and the Bank of New York were informed that their stock sale transactions may have been compromised. WMR has learned that Disney stock holders were not officially informed of the theft of their data until June 13, 2008, four months later. Perhaps not coincidentally, a number of Israeli-owned computer services companies are now offering protection against data theft to potential customers. In addition, Kislin was linked to a money laundering scandal involving the Bank of New York, now Bank of New York Mellon. WMR previously reported on the Bank of New York (BONY) scandal and the Russian-Israeli mob:

“Forest Hills has been identified by the FBI as a major center for both the Russian-Israeli Mafia and Mossad and it is a place where the two interests often cooperate. In 2002, OPERATION SPIDERWEB, a joint FBI-EUROPOL operation, resulted in the arrest of 20 Russian-Israeli dual citizens on charges of money laundering. The laundering primarily involved the Bank of New York (BONY), the Russian bank Menatep, and an ‘Internet bank’ called the European Union Bank. More importantly, the money laundering network also included Benex, a firm connected to Bill Clinton-pardoned Mossad figure Marc Rich, who still resides primarily in Switzerland. . . . Benex’s office was located on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills in the same building where Grigori Loutchansky headquartered two of his companies. Loutchansky is a Latvian-born Israeli who laundered billions through his Vienna-based NORDEX firm. National Security Agency (NSA) signals intercepts have reportedly yielded intelligence on Loutchansky’s role in the smuggling of nuclear materials. Loutchansky also was closely linked to Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign through New York real estate magnate and Democratic donor Sam Dombs. . . . Forest Hills was also the hometown of international diamond dealer Yehuda Abraham, convicted in a plot to smuggle surface-to-air missile launchers from Russia into the United States, mere four months after 9/11, and launder the proceeds from the deal through Malaysia. The network was discovered to have links with the Viktor Bout weapons smuggling network and money laundering facilities linked to ‘Al Qaeda’ Southeast Asia affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah. Abraham, an Afghan Jew, was linked not only to Mossad but to the Saudi Royal Family.”

It is now being reported that John McCain has a severe gambling addiction, evidenced by his long bouts with the craps tables in Las Vegas. There are reports that convicted GOP lobbyist and Russian-Israeli mob money launderer Jack Abramoff traded favors with McCain and Alabama Governor Bob Riley, who, through election malfeasance, cost Democratic Governor Don Siegelman his governorship in 2002 and then proceeded to engage in a criminal conspiracy to indict and convict Siegelman on trumped up charges.

A set of emails sent between Abramoff and Tom DeLay’s Communications Director in December 2002, emails that were never produced by McCain’s Indian Affairs Committee, show that Abramoff was conspiring with Riley, a casino gambling opponent, to keep gambling from the Poarch Creek Indian Reservation to benefit gambling on the Coushatta Indian Reservations in Mississippi. The email also describes efforts between Mississippi Republican Governor Haley Barbour and Maryland Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich to bring casino gambling to Indian reservations in their states. Ehrlich and his staff were targets of a federal investigation linking them to a prostitution ring involving Pamela Martin & Associates escorts and Shirlington Limousine, which ferried escorts on behalf of individuals and lobbyists linked to Abramoff in the Washington, DC and Baltimore areas. That investigation was shut down after George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004.

McCain has also been linked to Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska, another member of the Russian Mafia who has been denied an entry visa to the United States. Deripaska, unlike his Russian Jewish comrades, has maintained good links to Putin. Deripaska has also figured prominently as a supplier of aluminum to the European Airbus aircraft frames to be used in the production of the US Air Force tanker plane, a contract pushed hard by McCain and his top campaign advisers, some of whom were lobbyists for Airbus.

The Russian-Israeli mob infiltration of the McCain campaign is only the continuation of a cancerous infiltration of the American body politic that began with the takeover of the Senate office of Washington’s Henry “Scoop” Jackson by anti-Soviet Jewish “neo-conservatives” in the early 1970s and blossomed into the full scale coup witnessed in the presidential election of 2000.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright © 2008 WayneMadenReport.com

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report.

Wahhabi Prosecutor Seeking Death Penalty for Saudi Shiite Cleric

  • A protester holds up a picture of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr during a rally at the coastal town of Qatif, against Sheikh Nimr's arrest July 8, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer
  • Reuters/Reuters – A protester holds up a picture of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr during a rally at the coastal town of Qatif, against Sheikh Nimr’s arrest July 8, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

RIYADH (Reuters) – A Saudi Arabian prosecutor has demanded the death penalty for a Shi’ite Muslim cleric whose arrest last summer led to deadly protests in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, local media reported on Wednesday.

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, long seen as a radical leader in the Shi’ite minority, appeared in court on Monday for the first time since his arrest in July, the Saudi Gazette reported.

The prosecutor, accusing him of “aiding terrorists” and instigating unrest, said he was guilty of “waging war on God”, a crime in sharia, or Islamic law, that automatically carries the death penalty, al-Riyadh daily reported.

Saudi Arabia has no written legal code and judges have wide discretion to deliver verdicts based on their interpretation of sharia and without reference to precedent.

Tension is already running high over this month’s arrest of 16 Shi’ites accused of spying for Riyadh’s regional rival Iran. Tehran has denied spying in the kingdom and Shi’ite community leaders have said they do not believe the charges.

Police and protesters have clashed repeatedly in the past two years in the Eastern Province’s mostly Shi’ite Qatif area where 16 demonstrators and a security officer have been killed.

The government has attributed all the deaths to exchanges of fire with rioters. Shi’ite activists say police shot the 16 during peaceful demonstrations or during attempted arrests.

Nimr was based in al-Awamiyah, a neighborhood in Qatif that has been a hotbed of unrest. When he was arrested in July the authorities said he had rammed a police car and possessed weapons. Local Shi’ite activists denied both accusations.

Three demonstrators were killed during protests in the days immediately after Nimr’s arrest.

Early last year the Interior Ministry issued a list of 23 people wanted over the unrest in Qatif, saying they were acting on behalf of an unnamed foreign power, widely seen as Iran.

Nimr was accused of meeting some of these people while they were on the run.

He was also accused of interfering in the internal affairs of Bahrain, separated from Eastern Province by a 25 km (16 mile) causeway, where majority Shi’ites have led protests demanding the Sunni ruling family introduce democracy.

Saudi Shi’ites have long complained of persistent discrimination in the kingdom, where the majority follow the rigid Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam that sees Shi’ism as heretical. The authorities deny charges of discrimination.

Last week 37 Saudi Shi’ite leaders signed a statement accusing the government of using the spy ring allegation to stir sectarian tensions and distract Sunnis from demands for reform.

This month a Sunni cleric urged the government to free suspected Islamist militants and improve public services or risk street protests. Saudi Arabia has escaped the popular uprisings that have swept some other Arab states in the past two years.

(Reporting by Angus McDowall; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

Karzai Government Looks Elsewhere for Serious Peace Negotiations, Claiming Pakistan Impediment To Progress

[SEE:  Pakistan Blames Karzai for Refusing Fake American/Pakistani Negotiations With “Taliban Leaders”]

Exclusive: Afghanistan says ready to work for peace without Pakistan help

Reuters

By Michael Georgy and Hamid Shalizi

KABUL

(Reuters) – Afghanistan is shocked by Pakistan’s “complacency” in the nascent Afghan peace process and is ready to work without Islamabad’s help on reconciliation, Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin told Reuters on Wednesday.

It was the first time Afghanistan has suggested the possibility of going it alone without its neighbor. Regional power Pakistan is seen as critical to stabilizing Afghanistan because of its long ties to insurgent groups.

Ludin also said the government would look to senior Taliban figures recently handed over by the United States in Bagram prison to urge militants to pursue peace. He did not elaborate.

Afghan officials had been pushing Pakistan hard to encourage the Taliban and other groups to join reconciliation efforts and Kabul had spoken of progress after Islamabad released some Taliban prisoners who could promote peace.

But Ludin, widely believed to shape foreign policy, told Reuters in an interview that Afghanistan had noted a shift in Pakistan’s position towards peace efforts that are gaining more urgency as foreign forces prepare to leave by the end of 2014.

“We here in Kabul are in a bit of a state of shock at once again being confronted by the depth of Pakistan’s complacency, we are just very disappointed,” he said.

“But what has happened in the last few months for us, (we)see that Pakistan is changing the goal post every time we reach understanding.”

Afghanistan also said it had canceled a military trip to Pakistan due to “unacceptable Pakistani shelling” of the country’s mountainous eastern borderlands.

More than two dozen Pakistani artillery shells were fired into Afghanistan’s eastern province of Kunar on Monday and Tuesday. The cancellation of the trip and days of angry diplomatic exchanges have placed further strain on a fraught relationship.

Afghanistan expressed its concern about what it called Pakistan’s attempt to sideline President Hamid Karzai’s government to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to Kabul this week, said Ludin.

The deputy foreign minister, who is closely involved in peace efforts, said Afghanistan insisted that its High Peace Council, formed by Karzai, should spearhead any peace efforts.

Ludin said Pakistan had been trying to get the Taliban to talk to other parties, like the opposition, something he said would reverse gains.

“Suddenly, there is a new notion of the peace process now being introduced by Pakistan and that’s ‘well why should the Taliban talk to President Karzai or the High Peace Council?'” said Ludin. “They (Taliban) should in fact talk to other political parties. That’s what they have told us,” Ludin said.

“Pakistan’s concept of the peace process is one that will reverse the achievement of the last 10 years that will negate the centrality of the Afghan state.”

Although there have been several meetings in Western capitals over the last few months in which representatives of the Taliban met Afghan peace negotiators, there are no signs of any breakthrough.

RENEWED TENSIONS

Karzai is due to visit the Gulf Arab state of Qatar soon to discuss the opening of a Taliban office that could be used for peace contacts in the future.

Kabul has long been suspicious of Pakistan’s intentions, accusing it of harboring the Taliban leadership in the city of Quetta, and using militants as proxies to counter the influence of rival India in Afghanistan.

But a few months ago, Kabul was encouraged after Pakistan released some Afghan Taliban prisoners from its jails.

Now relations seem to have taken a sharp turn for the worse as the United States winds down the war, now in its 12th year.

This week, Pakistani officials accused Karzai of being an impediment to the peace process.

Ludin suggested Pakistan wanted Afghanistan to remain unstable so that militant groups allegedly backed by Islamabad would be in a position to capitalize on instability after 2014.

“What they would like is again a fragmentation of the Afghan state and going back to the drawing board so that they can have another 10 years, at least another decade, of weak, compromised Afghan state,” he said.

Ludin stressed that Pakistan was a pivotal player and Afghanistan would still welcome its support.

“The sad reality is though Pakistan still remains the most important missing link in this whole vision that we have,” he said.

Karzai had worked too hard and taken too many political risks to let Pakistan dictate how peace efforts should proceed, Ludin said.

“He (Karzai) has spent his political capital on this, he has basically staked his own political capital, his own reputation, on this and he has really mobilized the whole country, the whole region in support of the process,” said Ludin.

“It is laughable, laughable if Pakistanis think that the whole notion of the President Karzai is impediment to peace.”

Karzai’s government, he said, would now turn to some of the most senior, hardcore Taliban leaders behind bars in Bagram in its quest for peace.

“We will try to appeal to them and say: ‘Look, continued reluctance of Taliban to stay away from peace process and any buy in to this whole Pakistani design that they should not to speak to the Afghan government, is dangerous,'” said Ludin.

“Now that we have them we will see who is ready to help in this process.”

(Reporting by Michael Georgy and Hamid Shalizi; Editing by Ron Popeski)

Fat Pig of Qatar Struts and Twirls His Curly Tail At Captive Arab Summit In Doha-(Updated)

Pig of Qatar

Emir of Qatar Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, center, attends the opening session of the Arab League Summit in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, March 26, 2013. Syrian opposition representatives took the country’s seat for the first time at an Arab League summit that opened in Qatar on Tuesday, a significant diplomatic boost for the forces fighting President Bashar Assad’s regime. (AP Photo/Ghiath Mohamad)

Arab League summit showcases Qatar’s swagger

Salt Lake tribune
Country has stepped into void of leadership.

By BRIAN MURPHY

The Associated Press

First Published 5 hours ago • Updated 5 hours ago

Doha, Qatar • Qatar’s emir looked over an assembly of Arab leaders Tuesday as both cordial host and impatient taskmaster. His welcoming remarks to kings, sheiks and presidents across the Arab world quickly shifted to Qatar’s priorities: Rallying greater support for Syrian rebels and helping Palestinians with efforts such as a newly proposed $1 billion fund to protect Jerusalem’s Arab heritage.

No one seemed surprised at the paternal tone or the latest big-money initiative. In a matter of just a few years, hyper-wealthy Qatar has increasingly staked out a leadership role once held by Egypt and helped redefine how Arab states measure influence and ambition.

Little more than a spot to sink oil and gas wells a generation ago, Qatar is now a key player in nearly every Middle Eastern shakeout since the Arab Spring, using checkbook diplomacy in settings as diverse as Syria’s civil war, Italian artisan workshops struggling with the euro financial crisis, and the soccer pitches in France as owners of the Paris Saint-Germain team.

As hosts of an Arab League summit this week, Qatar gets another chance to showcase its swagger.

With power, however, come tensions. Qatar has been portrayed as an arrogant wunderkind in places such as Iraq and Lebanon where some factions object to its rising stature, and Qatar’s growing independent streak in policy-making has raised concerns among its Gulf Arab partners. It also faces questions — as do other Gulf nations and Western allies — over support for some Arab Spring uprisings while remaining loyal to the embattled monarchy in neighboring Bahrain.

“The adage that money buys influence could very well be the motto of Qatar,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a professor of regional politics at Emirates University outside Abu Dhabi. “But it goes beyond that. Qatar also has learned the value of being flexible and, at the same time, thinking big.”

It’s hard these days to find a point on the Mideast map without some link back to Qatar.

In recent years, Qatar mediated disputes among Lebanese factions and prodded Sudan’s government into peace talks with rebels in the Darfur region. Qatar’s rulers even broke ranks with Gulf partners and allowed an Israeli trade office — almost a de facto diplomatic post — before it was closed in early 2009 in protest of Israeli attacks on Gaza. And Doha has been atop the Arab media pecking order as headquarters of the pan-Arab network Al-Jazeera, which was founded with Qatari government money in 1996 and is now expanding its English-speaking empire into the United States.

But it was the Arab Spring that opened the way for Qatar to stake out an even bigger role in regional affairs, filling the vacuum for regional powerhouse Egypt as that country was mired in turmoil after the revolution that ousted longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

Qatar was among the few Arab states offering active military assistance to NATO-led attacks against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya and, at the same time, was a key arms-and-money pipeline for Libyan rebels. In Egypt, Mubarak’s fall offered Qatar’s rapid-reaction outreach a head start over other Gulf states because of its longstanding ties with the now-governing Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who attended the Doha summit, has turned to Qatar to help prop up the country’s stumbling economy.

“We expect that financial pledges will be respected,” Morsi said in a message to Qatar and other Arab countries that have promised money for Egypt.

Almost nothing happens in the Syrian opposition without a voice from Qatar, which has played matchmaker for a broader political coalition against Syrian President Bashar Assad and leads appeals to provide rebel fighters more heavy weapons in attempts to turn the tide in the 2-year-old civil war. On Tuesday, Qatar led the official transfer of Syria’s Arab League seat from the Assad government to the opposition Syrian National Coalition.

The New York Times reported Monday that the CIA has helped Turkey and Arab governments, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, to sharply increase military aid to Syria’s opposition in recent months with secret airlifts or arms and equipment. The Associated Press also reported, citing American officials and others, that the U.S. is training secular Syrian fighters in Jordan in a bid to stem the influence of Islamist radicals in the splintered Syrian opposition.

To view Qatar’s rise as purely a triumph of extreme wealth gives an incomplete picture, analysts say. True, Qatar’s pockets are deep. The most recent budget surplus swelled to $26 billion and Qatar has one of the world’s most well-heeled sovereign wealth funds whose acquisitions include stakes in luxury brands such as Tiffany and the Valentino fashion house as well as David Beckham’s new club, Paris Saint-Germain.

But Qatar represents a shift in Arab clout toward a new style: A country squarely in the Western-leaning camp, but far more willing to embark on policies and plans that could ruffle the U.S.

“Qatar believes it doesn’t have to wait for others to try to shape the direction and conversation in the region,” said Theodore Karasik, a security and political affairs analyst at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis. “That kind of confidence opens up all kinds of new political equations.”

A clear example was a centerpiece of the Arab League summit welcoming address by Qatar’s ruler, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who pledged $250 million toward a proposed $1 billion fund to defend the Arab identity and history of Jerusalem against an expanding Israeli presence in traditional Arab districts.

“The Palestinian, Arab and Muslim rights in Jerusalem are not negotiable, and Israel must realize this,” the emir said after telling other Arab states that it is their responsibility to kick in another $750 million.

Such Qatar-led initiatives are likely to deepen its influence among Palestinians and, indirectly, appear to further challenge Washington as the main outside policy-shaper in Israel-Palestinian disputes. Last year, Qatar’s emir traveled to the Gaza Strip with promises for funds and assistance that also sought to undercut Iran as the principal backer for Hamas.

Hamas on Tuesday welcomed the emir’s invitation to meet in Cairo with the rival Palestinian Authority for another round of reconciliation talks, which began last year in Qatar.

“Qatar has money to spend and the political will to use it as an extension of its foreign policy,” according to Karasik, the analyst. “That’s a powerful combination.”

The Qatar government guest book is a case in point.

Qatar has offered debt-battered Italy and Greece separate 1 billion euro ($1.29 billion) funds for small businesses and traditional workshops if the countries match the amount. In the past few months, the prime ministers of Italy and Greece have come calling in Doha with words of thanks.

Lebanon Wants Rebel Arms Flow Halted, Arabs Want To Arm Sunni Factions, Government

Doha summit pledges support for Lebanon’s unity, stability

the daily star
Sleiman meets with Abdel-Aziz in Doha.
Sleiman meets with Abdel-Aziz in Doha.

BEIRUT: Arab leaders meeting Tuesday in Qatar expressed solidarity with Lebanon, promising political and economic support for its government to help it maintain the country’s national unity, security, stability and sovereignty over all its territories.

The leaders praised the Lebanese Army’s role in asserting state sovereignty in the south and safeguarding stability and civil peace, according to a final statement issued at the end of a one-day summit chaired in Doha by Qatari’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.

The Arab League summit underlined the need for bolstering the capabilities of the Lebanese Army and security forces to enable them to carry out their security missions.

However, it was not immediately clear whether the leaders would provide military or financial assistance to shore up the Army’s military capabilities.

The summit also voiced its support for “the right of Lebanon’s government, people and resistance to liberate and recover the Shebaa Farms and the village of Ghajar, [areas occupied by Israel], and defend Lebanon against any [Israeli] aggression by all available means.”

Meanwhile, Lebanon employed its policy of disassociation toward the crisis in neighboring Syria during the Doha summit and urged members of the Arab League to shoulder responsibility in protecting its stability.

Addressing the summit, President Michel Sleiman urged both local parties and regional powers to help implement the Baabda Declaration, which calls for distancing Lebanon from regional conflicts, particularly the 2-year-old bloody conflict in Syria.

“Out of fear of the Lebanese being plunged into strife and violence as a result of the ongoing fighting in Syrian territories, the parties to the Lebanese National Dialogue Committee agreed on the so-called Baabda Declaration on June 11 last year to spare Lebanon the potential negative repercussions of the Syrian crisis by distancing it from regional and international conflicts and [regional] axis policies,” Sleiman said in his speech.

“On this basis, we disassociate ourselves from the [summit] decision pertaining to Syria,” he added.

Sleiman was apparently referring to the Arab summit’s decision to give Syria’s Arab League seat to Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, leader of the Syrian National Coalition, and also to allow member states to offer military assistance to Syrian rebels.

Sleiman told the leaders that Lebanon’s policy of neutrality toward the Syrian crisis needed to be strengthened with their help, citing the failure of Lebanese sides to abide by the Baabda Declaration.

“Nine months since the adoption of the Baabda Declaration, there is a pressing need to bolster it internally and regionally in light of opposing [domestic] sides having failed to abide by its provisions, which called for keeping [Lebanon] away [from regional developments] and preventing Lebanon from being used as a sanctuary, conduit or base for smuggling of weapons and fighters to Syria,” he said.

“But this also requires that the Syrian opposition sides in turn cease using Lebanon and its territories for military operations,” Sleiman added.

He said Lebanon and other Arab countries had the duty of ensuring adherence to the Baabda Declaration and preserving the country’s stability.

“The responsibility of abiding to the Baabda Declaration, maintaining the stability of Lebanon, its unity and civil peace is Lebanon’s responsibility first and foremost,” Sleiman said. “But from the standpoint of sisterly [relations] and solidarity, it is a joint Lebanese-Arab responsibility.”

Sleiman also said Lebanon’s foreign policy aimed at preserving the best of the ties with Arab states.

“Despite the freedom of expression in Lebanon, within the limits of the law, it is certain that the policy of the Lebanese state, represented by its president here, is one of keenness of preserving the best of ties with sisterly Arab states on the basis of ties and solidarity and a rejection of interference in their internal affairs,” he said.

Sleiman met on the sidelines of the summit separately with Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdel-Aziz, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, Jordan’s King Abdullah, in addition to heads of governments and foreign ministers.

Russian officials searching Moscow offices of Human Rights Watch, Transparency International

Russian officials searching Moscow offices of Human Rights Watch, Transparency International

foxnews

Associated Press

MOSCOW –  Russian officials are searching the Moscow offices Human Rights Watch and the corruption watchdog Transparency International, intensifying the recent wave of pressure on non-governmental organizations.

Rachel Denber of Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that officials from the prosecutor general’s office and tax police were conducting an “unannounced audit” and demanding documents.

Transparency’s Russia chief Elena Panfilova said that her organization’s office was also being searched.

Russian officials have searched as many as 2,000 non-governmental groups in the past month, according to Pavel Chikov, a member of the presidential human rights council, whose human rights law group is also being searched.

The searches began after President Vladimir Putin gave a speech to the FSB, the KGB’s successor agency, in February, urging them to focus on groups receiving foreign funding.

Boris Berezovsky died by hanging, police say

Boris Berezovsky died by hanging, police say

[Boris Berezovsky is typical of most of the Russian “Oligarchs,” after having risen to his lofty heights after a lowly beginning in the Russian Mafia, he is the one name which links many of the super-wealthy Russian pirate capitalists with the Mob and remnants of the original KGB.  His is the latest mysterious death in London, of a former Russian mobster/Oligarch or former KGB.  Berezovsky once took credit for the bureaucratic shuffle which moved Putin into the seat of power.]
 Alexander Litvinenko in a London hospital in November 2006 a senior FSB agent  (KGB’s successor), responsible for overseeing the fight against the Russian mafia.  He also moonlighted as one of Berezovsky’s bodyguards, along with several other agents.  Litvinenko claims that he allegedly received orders from above to assassinate Berezovsky.  Instead, Litvinenko told Berezovsky about the plot, who then, confronted Putin about it in an open letter in Kommersant on 13 November 1998.
Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich,
“In March 1998, and later from URPO FSB officers – Colonel Vladimir Shabalin, lieutenant Husak, A., A. Litvinenko, Alexander Scriabin, majors Ponkina A. Kruglov VI, Yermolov, S., and G. Shcheglova Lieutenant Latyshonka K. I learned that the leaders of the major-general of the [Directorate of Analysis and Suppression of Criminal Groups] Khokholkov E., N. Stepanov, Captain 1st rank Kamyshnikov A., Colonel Enin N. et al, using his official position gave illegal orders related to the commission of acts of terrorism, murder, hostage taking, extortion of large sums of money.   November-December 1997 and Khokholkov Kamyshnikov set for subordinates the task to kill me.”
Also
“In 1998, in a conversation with me in the presence of Colonel Alexander Litvinenko, Colonel General Trofimov said that the murder of the Russian security services were involved Listyev, of which he has personally told predecessor N. Kovalev.”   
Vladislav Listyev Vladislav Listyev, Gunned-Down, March 1, 1995, by a 5-man death squad.  Two of them were captured, one (Andrey Chelyshev) blamed the contract on an Azerbaijani businessman, the other (Aleksandr Ageikin) was found dead in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Both Berezovsky and Litvinenko soon fled to London, after confronting Putin, who publicly fired Litvinenko and his fellow FSB agents, claiming publicly that,
“I fired Litvinenko and disbanded his unit …because FSB officers should not stage press conferences. This is not their job. And they should not make internal scandals public.”
Litvinenko was the first victim in this series of unexplained London Russian deaths.  He suffered a slow death by Polonium poisoning soon after publicly accusing Putin of “ordering the October 2006 murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.” and blaming the Russian secret services for “staging the Russian apartment bombings and other terrorism acts in an effort to bring Vladimir Putin to power.” 

 

Litvinenko had met with two Russians in London on the day that he became sick from the Polonium.  The two Russians, Andrei Lugovoi and Vyacheslav Sokolenko, were former guards in an elite Kremlin unit of the KGB known as the Ninth Department that protected top Communist party officials.

Another Oligarch (now deceased, February 12, 2008), Georgian tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili defended the primary suspect, describing Lugovoy as a “close friend” for thirteen years. [editor footnote:  Patarkatsishvili was born in 1955 into a devout Jewish family in Tbilisi.]

Berezovsky had filed a lawsuit against the estate and family of his late business associate Badri Patarkatsishvili, which was due to be heard in the London High Court in November.  Berezovsky settles Patarkatsishvili lawsuit--September 13, 2012

220px-Abramovich_Chukotka Roman Abramovich

Berezovsky settled the Patarkatsishvili lawsuit afterlosing a $6bn lawsuit against Roman Abramovich and a High Court judge gave a scathing assessment of Mr Berezovsky’s character as a witness.”

“Mrs Justice Gloster said in her ruling: “On my analysis of the entirety of the evidence, I found Mr Berezovsky an unimpressive, and inherently unreliable, witness, who regarded truth as a transitory, flexible concept, which could be moulded to suit his current purposes.

“At times the evidence which he gave was deliberately dishonest; sometimes he was clearly making his evidence up as he went along in response to the perceived difficulty in answering the questions in a manner consistent with his case; at other times, I gained the impression that he was not necessarily being deliberately dishonest, but had deluded himself into believing his own version of events.”

Berezovsky sued Abramovich for $4 billion at the London Commercial Court, charging that Abramovich was an “enforcer-type figure for Vladimir Putin.”  Only Roman Abramovich and Vladimir Putin are still alive.  Was either of them responsible for silencing all of these Russians?] 

Abramovich responded with a 53-page rebuttal, charging that Mr Berezovsky and “Badri” Patarkatsishvili extorted enormous sums from him, for “helping him to rise from obscurity.”

Arkadiy Abramovich  Abramovich’s latest “legitimate” conquest is through the investment company, Zoltav Resources Inc., which he gave to his 19 year-old son, Arkadiy Abramovich.  Zoltav is currently moving in on CenGeo Holdings Ltd, a private company of another mysterious Oligarch, Valentin Bukhtoyarov, who is also co-owner of “Sibuglemet.”  Young Abramovich is moving from investment to oil and gas exploration in CenGeo’s Koltogor oil field in Western Siberia.  CenGeo also owns SibGeCo

[RUMAFIA–excellent research link on the Russian Mafia]

.

Saudis Suddenly Stopping Jihad Recruitment, Turkey Arresting German Al-Q Leader Entering Syria

 

The Saudi Interior Ministry issued a stern warning on Monday to any and all Saudis considering sneaking into Syria to help fight for either side. The warning was, simply, don’t do it.

Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki told AP, “Involvement in the Syrian crisis is against Saudi laws.” He also said Saudi authorities would “crack down” on those planning to travel to Syria.

Gulf News estimates hundreds of Saudi youth have snuck into Syria via Jordan and Turkey. Al-Turki said the government had intelligence “of some Saudi citizens” in Syria, but did not have specific numbers.

Al-Turki made his announcement a day after Chinese President Xi Jingping made a statement during his first foreign trip to Russia that “foreign meddling” in domestic affairs was not welcome.

“We must respect the right of each country in the world to independently choose its path of development, and oppose interference in the internal affairs of other countries,” Xi said in his address to students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations on Saturday.

China, Iran and Russia have been staunch allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government. China and Russia, both permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, have blocked three draft resolutions against Syria.

Saudi Arabia has been a vocal supporter of the Syrian opposition, which is majority Sunni Muslim. The Saudi government has been at loggerheads for years with Iran, which is majority Shiite Muslim, for influence in the Middle East and Gulf region.

[Explain this]

A very secret document for exemption Arabia sentenced to death, including the Iraqis for “jihad” in Syria

Wasat Iraqi news

Saudi execution criminals Syria jihad

Revealed a letter from the Saudi Ministry of Interior agreed with some of the prisoners from Arab and foreign nationalities, including Iraqis sentenced to death recruited “Jihad in Syria” in return for scrapping their sentences.

Rare Dalit Success Story Illustrates Plight of India’s “Untouchable” Caste

[SEE:  Church exposed Dalit persecution to whole world–DALIT VOICE ]

Although the Indian caste system was outlawed in the 1950s, even today caste discrimination is still rife in Indian society.  The position of many Dalits, who occupy the lowest rungs of the social ladder, continues to be quite desperate. But there are exceptions to the rule. Kalpana Saroj is a Dalit, who was once an abused child bride but later became the head a multi-million dollar company.

Most Dalits, or “untouchables”, are condemned to illiteracy, poverty, doing dirty and dangerous jobs nobody else dares to take up. Even if you beat the odds and get an education for example, you’re still looked down on.

In August 2011, South Asia Wired featured Ms Saroj. Listen to the programme here (or click here)

Poison
“Dalit girls were called ‘little packets of poison’,” says Kalpana Saroj, remembering the days she was a young girl in a small Indian village. Her father was a policeman but as they came from the Dalit caste, there wasn’t any hope she would be able to climb the social ladder.

Instead, she was  married off when she was twelve. “If I’d been from a different caste, this wouldn’t have happened,” Kalpana says. “I was doing well at school  and I felt I had a lot of potential. I was only in grade seven at the time I got married.”

Life as a married girl was far from happy. “My inlaws were bad. Being with them in one house was worse than hell. They practically tortured me, a small 12-year old girl.”

Escape
Kalpana remembers regular beatings and threats to kill her if she didn’t abide by the family rules.
After six months, her father paid her visit. “He decided to take me with him,” she recalls. “They said he couldn’t. Then he showed up in his police uniform and we escaped back to my village.”

“People assumed there was something wrong with me as I didn’t stay married. I thought I had no future and that my family would be stigmatised because of me.”

Suicide
She took drastic steps to relieve her family of shame and stigmas. She wanted to end her life, but her suicide attempt (by drinking rat poison) failed, after which Kalpana realised she had other options than killing herself.

“I thought: If I have to die one day anyway, why not do something really worth dying for?,” she says. “I promised myself there and then to do something so great that they wouldn’t be able to forget me after my death.”

Kalpana moved to the big city, Mumbai, to pursue her dreams. “I found a job in a clothing factory, earning 2 rupees a day. When the other tailors went out for lunch, I practiced sewing.”

Perseverance
She was eager to learn and that perseverance paid off – her boss soon gave her a raise and promoted her to other positions in the factory.  She also formed a group of women who wanted to open their own businesses and after weeks of logging government officials for a loan, she succeeded.

“To cut a long story short, I made some money and was even able to buy and develop some land,” she says. “I’d developed a reputation that everything I touched, became a success. That’s why the owner of the land, who belonged to a higher caste than me, approached me.”

Kalpana was once again made aware that she belonged to the lowest caste. “People couldn’t understand why this man had sold his land to me, a low-born woman.”

The land deal paid off and Kalpana got the reputation of “the Dalit who dares”.

Kamani Tubes
With more money to her disposal, Kalpana entered more business ventures. Her biggest move took place in 2006, when she took over Kamani Tubes, a producer of copper and brass tubes. Not only was this a big move, it was also – and primarily – a big risk.

It was an ailing business which was deep in debt (116 billion Rupees) and was embroiled in over 100 court cases. Hundreds of (former) employees were clamouring for their dues.

But Kalpana took up the challenge anyway.  And she succeeded – she paid off the debts, she repaid the salaries of former employees which the company owed and she turned Kamani Tubes into a healthy, profit-making business.

Obligations
“I was born a human being and I will die a human being,” she now says. “I’ve looked after my parents when they were old and ailing. I’ve helped my society and my caste. I think I’ll die having fulfilled my basic obligations as a human being and I’m happy about that.”

“And it feels good, of course,” she laughs. “Success always feels good!”.

Mullah Baradar: friend or foe?

The Afghan authorities confirmed on Tuesday reports that the Taliban’s second-in-command, Mullah Baradar, has been arrested in Pakistan. But while the West considers the capture of such a ‘big fish’ a strategic victory, our correspondent points out that he was also the key to a possible diplomatic solution to the conflict.

Listen to an interview with Afghanistan specialist Bette Dam

Less than two months ago three Afghans accompanied me on a secret mission to Deh Rawod, Uruzgan’s second largest town. We set out in two old Toyotas without revealing our plans to anyone and without speaking about the trip on the phone. Treachery is everywhere in this country. The only people who knew of our journey were relatives who could offer us shelter along the way.

My Afghan driver was flustered when he began talking about the Taliban leader Mullah Baradar. We had taken every precaution and the second car travelled behind us. We let other vehicles travel in front of us before entering Deh Rawod in order to avoid roadside bombs.

Members of the same tribe
My Afghan colleague asked: “Do you know that you are about to ask some very troublesome questions?” I knew they were quite awkward. I was attempting to discover more about the secret relationship between the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban’s operational leader. It is a story which began in Deh Rawod.

President Karzai’s closest allies live in the shadow of the Dutch Camp Hadrian. Mullah Baradar knows them all. Both leaders belong to the same tribe, the Popolzai.

Saved his life
President Karzai started to ask for Mullah Baradar’s help in 2001. After the attacks of 11 September 2001, the Americans helped Karzai take control of ‘his’ region in Uruzgan from the Taliban. By talking and negotiating he convinced one tribal leader after another to support him.

When Karzai found himself in a life-threatening situation while in the Durji mountains he was rescued by Mullah Baradar, who was then the Taliban’s defence minister. In exchange, Karzai agreed not to punish Mullah Baradar for his role as a Taliban leader. Karzai assured him that he had nothing to worry about and that the Taliban would later be allowed to participate in the government. However things turned out differently. United States forces bombed Baradar’s house in Deh Rawod in spite of Karzai’s objections. Mullah Baradar fled the country and began operating in neighbouring Pakistan.

Powerful network
In Deh Rawod, our hosts closed the doors before we started talking. Everyone knew that Mullah Baradar was still on the West’s most-wanted list and associating with the Taliban is dangerous. However when I mentioned that I had spoken to President Karzai about his relationship with Mullah Baradar, our hosts lost their reservations. They explained that President Karzai’s influence is still strong here. And the same holds true for Mullah Baradar.

I had already heard in Kabul that there was contact between the two sides. Here, tribal contacts are more important than ideology. The Popolzai are more loyal to their own tribe than they are to the regime in Kabul or to the Taliban. One of my hosts told me that Mullah Baradar had been in Deh Rawod three months earlier thanks to the support of the Karzai network. When I attempted to dig deeper the man stopped talking, saying he had to go to a wedding and left.

Travelling in Afghanistan
One tribal leader from the region told me that Mullah Baradar travelled freely in Afghanistan. He passed Canadian and Dutch soldiers while travelling in an old car between the Pakistan border and his native town. He did this by ensuring that members of his tribe and people loyal to him would secure his safe passage as he made the trips.

After my return to Kabul I heard that after a visit to Deh Rawod, Mullah Baradar travelled to Kabul for talks with President Karzai. Informed sources in Kabul told me that Mullah Baradar would be the best-placed person to help the government with its plans to reach a peaceful agreement with the Taliban. President Karzai’s contacts with Mullah Baradar would enable him to reach the inner circles of the Taliban leadership.

Gain or loss?
Sources within Western intelligence agencies say that Mullah Baradar was previously in Dubai for talks. Others say that President Karzai sometimes ensured that Mullah Baradar was able to cross the border, while the mullah at times did the president a favour.

This morning I was awoken by a phone call informing me that Mullah Baradar had been arrested. Many analysts consider this positive news. This will weaken the Taliban and is clearly a military success. However this is a short-term gain. But what does it mean for Kabul’s ambitious plans to reach a peace agreement with the Taliban? After all, wasn’t Mullah Baradar the key to peace in Afghanistan?

Pakistan Blames Karzai for Refusing Fake American/Pakistani Negotiations With “Taliban Leaders”

[Karzai seems to be doing his best to disengage Western forces from his country and to cut through all of the bullshit surrounding the shady American plans to use Pakistan to “negotiate reconciliation” with secondary and retired Taliban leaders.  Pakistan is serving as Obama’s little puppet to ensure Western dominance of the region.  All of their “good faith gestures” of turning loose lower-level Taliban is meaningless, since they have only one one truly valuable Taliban leader, operational commander of all of the Taliban, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a.k.a., “Mullah Brother.”  Pakistan originally grabbed him and his underlings to stop the ongoing tribal negotiations between Baradar and Hamid Karzai, both of whom belong to the the Popolzai tribe.  According to this report from Radio Netherlands Worldwide (SEE:  Mullah Baradar: friend or foe?), they had been covertly meeting in Kabul and possibly even in Dubai.  Baradar was reported to have intervened with the Taliban in 2001 to save Karzai’s life during early negotiations.  This “Brother” to Karzai is the Number Two Taliban.  Until Pakistan either frees him or facilitates talks between them, the government of Musharraf will be waiting in the wings to restore the pre-2001 status quo to Afghanistan and to the region.  Pakistan’s so-called leaders cannot possibly lie their way to peace once again.] 

Pakistan sees Afghanistan’s Karzai as obstacle to peace with Taliban

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai—AFP Photo

Afghan President Hamid Karzai—AFP Photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, seen as critical to efforts to stabilise Afghanistan, is finding it difficult to work with President Hamid Karzai due to mistrust and is reaching out to others to advance the peace process, senior Pakistani Foreign Ministry officials say.

Pakistan is uniquely positioned to promote reconciliation in neighboring Afghanistan because of its long history of ties to militant groups fighting to topple Karzai.

But Afghanistan has accused Pakistan of backing the Taliban to further its aims, fearful it will try to install a pro-Islamabad government in Kabul, a charge Pakistan denies.

“Right now, Karzai is the biggest impediment to the peace process,” a top Pakistani Foreign Ministry official told Reuters. “In trying to look like a savior, he is taking Afghanistan straight to hell.”

Karzai has said he wants peace on his own terms and could also be worried that the United States might cut a quick and risky deal with the Taliban, eager to get the bulk of its forces out of the country by the end of next year.

Either way, Pakistani officials say they are discouraged by what they call Karzai’s erratic statements and provocations, apparently designed to make him appear more decisive at home in dealing with the unpopular war, now in its 12th year.

Failure to reach an agreement between the Afghan government and insurgents would increase the chances of prolonged instability and even a push by the Taliban to seize power. The last time they did it, in 1996, it was with Pakistani help.

The stakes are also high for Pakistan, a strategic US ally seen as vital to Washington’s global war on militancy. It fears turmoil in Afghanistan could spill over the border and energize homegrown militants seeking to topple the government.

“I have absolutely no doubt that there will be complete chaos in Afghanistan if a settlement is not reached by 2014,” said the Foreign Ministry official. “Afghanistan will erupt. And when that happens, Pakistan will have to pay.”

Pakistan and Afghanistan have long been suspicious of each other. A recent period of warmer relations raised hopes they could work together to lure the Taliban to negotiations.

Aziz Khan, a former Pakistan ambassador to Afghanistan, said it was not right to pin all the blame on Karzai.

“Everyone is hedging their bets at this point: the Pakistanis, the US, the Afghan government and the Taliban,” he said. “No one has been clear about what they want in Afghanistan.”

Although Pakistan will maintain contacts with Karzai, it is stepping up engagements with opposition figures, the Taliban, Washington and other parties to promote reconciliation, Foreign Ministry officials said.

“There is no other option but reconciliation – with or without Karzai,” said the top Foreign Ministry official. “If he continues to be this stubborn, him and his High Peace Council will naturally be sidelined.”

 Afghan Say Karzai Committed to Peace

A second senior Pakistani Foreign Ministry official cited several examples of how Karzai has blocked peace efforts. At a conference in January, for example, Karzai insisted there would be no more “back door” peace contacts.

The official also accused Karzai of delaying the opening of a Taliban office in Qatar that could be used in the reconciliation efforts. He did not say why.

Afghan officials say Karzai is fully committed to the peace process, but wants to ensure it is Afghan-driven.

Responding to the accusation that Karzai is an obstacle to peace, an Afghan government official said: “We totally reject this. It is a baseless allegation.”

Analysts say Pakistan has a long-standing fear of an Afghan government close to its old foe, India. Karzai has said “no foreign elements or entities should attempt to own Afghan peace efforts”. He also warned: “I am not going to allow other attempts to succeed.”

So far, Karzai has failed to secure direct talks with the Taliban. He has repeatedly asked for Pakistan’s support. Pakistan has helped Taliban representatives to travel to Qatar to make contacts with US officials.

At the same time, Pakistan has been building bridges with the Northern Alliance, a constellation of anti-Taliban figures who have traditionally been implacable critics of Islamabad, and close to India.

But Kabul wants Pakistan to hand over top Afghan Taliban leaders which could prove useful in the peace process.

“All Taliban leadership are sitting in Pakistan. We need full cooperation of Pakistan in order for them to be allowed to travel and be allowed to talk,” Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul told a news conference in Sydney.
Karzai’s remarks during interviews and in meetings with Pakistani officials have led Islamabad to conclude he has become too inflexible. They cite Karzai’s recent accusation that the United States was colluding with the Taliban.

“What does Karzai have to show for his effort to bring insurgents to the table? We’ve released prisoners. We’ve facilitated talks,” said another senior Foreign Ministry official.

Late last year, Pakistan released more than two dozen Taliban prisoners who could help promote peace. It was the clearest signal ever that Pakistan had put its weight behind the Afghan reconciliation process.

Pakistan’s army chief has also made reconciling warring Afghan factions a priority, military sources say.

After the prisoner releases, Afghan officials said Pakistan shared Kabul’s goal of transforming the insurgency into a political movement. Such remarks signaled unprecedented optimism from Kabul.

“Joker In The Pack”

But despite that, old suspicions that Pakistan uses Afghan insurgents as proxies to counter the influence of India have not been laid to rest.

Some Afghan officials believe Pakistan may still be hedging its bets and that even the prisoner releases were just a way to retain influence over the Taliban.
“The key fact here is that Pakistan has been investing in this dirty game of trying to control Afghanistan for the last thirty years through terrorist proxies,” said a senior Afghan government official.

“It is now trying to reap the harvest of its investments by waiting for what they see as the inevitable complete departure of the international community from Afghanistan and keeping their proxy assets, primarily the Taliban, for the post-2014 period.”

During talks last month at British Prime Minister David Cameron’s official country residence, Chequers, Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari agreed to consult on future Afghan Taliban prisoner releases.

But Pakistani officials now complain that Karzai does not appreciate the goodwill gestures.

Another Pakistani Foreign Ministry official said the government was incensed by an interview Karzai gave to the British press after the Chequers meeting in which he said the peace process was being impeded by “external forces acting in the name of the Taliban”, a veiled reference to Islamabad.

So exasperated was Pakistan with Karzai that at a meeting this month between Zardari, the army chief and senior officials, one top leader described Karzai as “the joker in the pack”, according to an official who attended.

“He is trying to act as if he has many cards in his hands,” said the first Foreign Ministry official. “But he should realize he is only hurting his country.”

Awami National Party Has Dreams of Becoming the Pakistani Branch of Muslim Brotherhood

[This is the same Sen. Adeel who led the ANP charge to support the implementation of Sufi Mohammad’s alleged “Shariah courts” in Malakand, before he got what he wanted and all of the people of Malakand rose in opposition to head-chopping, limb amputations and beatings that awaited “miscreants.”  The ANP has no plans to deal with the Pakistani terrorists, other than embracing them and their plans whole-heartedly, once again.] 

Senator Mohammad Adeel presenting the ANP manifesto.

Senator Mohammad Adeel presenting the ANP manifesto.

“‘There should not have been any delay. We had taken the president, the prime minister, the army chief and other political parties on board before making the announcement to implement sharia in Malakand division,’ he said. To a question, he said President Zardari had agreed to sign the draft ‘within moments after receiving the summary’, and that further delay would create misunderstandings between the centre and the province.   ‘Delays cause misunderstandings, and sometimes they even frustrate all sincere efforts,’ he said.
The senator was confident the enforcement of the Nizam-e-Adl law would bring lasting peace in the Swat valley, and added that law and order had already improved in the area.”

Peace, education, health priorities: ANP unveils election manifesto 

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PESHAWAR: The Awami National Party on Sunday unveiled its manifesto for coming general election with focus on according top priority to improvement of law and order situation besides pledging to scale up efforts for overcoming energy crisis, take measures for promotion of education and healthcare, and protection of women, children and human rights.

The 25-page manifesto outlined by ANP’s senior vice-president Senator Mohammad Adeel at a news conference at Peshawar Press Club pledges to step up efforts for elimination of terrorism.

“The purpose of this manifesto is to inform people about the ANP’s aims and objectives so that voters in the coming election understand our party programmes,” he said.

The manifesto doesn’t present a detailed programme and seeks to describe the principles that will govern its policies, should it be called upon to serve the people of Pakistan, either singly or in partnership with others.

The English-scripted document has drawn up the party’s to-do-list. It promises to ensure peace and security for the development of people through political, legal, administrative, social, economic and fiscal reforms besides provincial autonomy and steps to promote education and improve patients’ care.

Mr Adeel said that the party had lost over 700 workers in war against terrorism during the past five years and would render more sacrifices for the sake of peace. He said that the party had elaborate programme to improve healthcare and take measures for putting in place effective laws to ensure labour, woman and child rights and development and employment of youth.

The party, he said, would also help farmers, extend facilities to industrial sector and establish institutes for technical education apart from taking measures for promotion of art, culture, sports and information technology. He said that the party was set to win election in view of its performance during its government and claimed they had already implemented its last election manifesto.

“We consider extremism and terrorism a threat to the very existence of the country. We are committed to peace and will not let the sacrifices of people of Pakistan and security agencies go in vain,” he said.

However, the manifesto says that the party will seek negotiations with all those who accept the government’s writ and renounce violence, but those defying this will face action. The party will oppose all forms of violations of the country’s sovereignty and integrity, he said. “We are committed to evolving a national consensus to make the state democratically developed,” he said.

He said that they believed that security and foreign policies were the primary responsibility of public representatives for which the party would launch efforts, if it came into power.

The ANP will ensure that state implements its writ in Federally Administered Tribal Areas and purge it from all sorts of terror networks, he said, adding that it would evolve a consensus on integration of Fata and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas into the mainstream, with a comprehensive political, social and economic reforms.

Mr Adeel explained that they would evolve a standard policy for compensation, including a public insurance policy, for victims
of sectarianism, terrorism and violence. The policy will also be extended to Fata, he said.

The ANP will establish a martyrs’ cell in the KP and Fata to ensure wellbeing of families of those killed in terrorism-related incidents, he said.

He said that the party draws inspiration from the teachings of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.

Is It Wrong To Wish Mr. Rashid “Good Luck” In This Endeavor?

[Adnan Rashid was convicted by a military kangaroo court of the attempt on Musharraf’s life in the Jhanda Chichi bridge bomb blast of 14 Dec 2004.  Mr. Rashid claims innocence in this matter (SEE: IN PURSUIT OF JUSTICE -The Story of Terrorized PAF Airmen, victims of Musharraf Regime by Adnan Rashid ).]

Pakistani Taliban threaten to assassinate Musharraf

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Screen shot taken from TTP video shows Adnan Rasheed training a death squad, being formed to assassinate Pervez Musharraf. – Photo courtesy Zahir Shah Sherazi

PESHAWAR: Pakistani Taliban has set up a special death squad to target former Pakistani president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf upon his arrival, who is expected to land in Karachi on March 24, says a militant video released on Saturday.

The outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has also called upon the Baloch insurgents to join hands with the militant outfit to wage a joint-war for implementing Shariah laws in the country.

In about a six-minute long video received by Dawn.Com, the TTP has threatened to use suicide bombers, snipers and combat teams to kill Musharraf.

Separately, speaking to Dawn.Com earlier, TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan had said the group had set up squads of suicide bombers to assassinate the former president.

“Suicide bombers are being trained and assigned to assassinate” the former president, Ehsan said.

Moreover, Adnan Rasheed, who took part in a previous attempt to assassinate Musharraf, has been given the charge of these suicide squads.

Rasheed is a former junior technician of Pakistan Air Force who was on death row after getting convicted by a field general court martial for engineering an attack on Musharraf in December 2003. He was among the prisoners who had escaped during the April 15, 2012 Bannu jail break.

“Pervez Musharraf, you can see this death squad around me. We warn you to surrender yourself to us otherwise we would hit you from where you would never imagine you can be hit,” says Adnan Rashid appearing in the video wearing military uniform with his hooded fighters carrying assault rifles.

The video also shows the newly-formed death squad fighters, being taught military drills by Rashid.

Accusing Musharraf of pushing the tribal areas and Balochistan into bloodshed in the name of war on terror and killing innocent students in Jamia Hafza (Lal Masjid), Ehsan in his video message says, “Musharraf is again coming to Pakistan to deceive people, but we would be greeting him with our death squad and he would be eliminated.”

“We are ready to take on the biggest dictator and killer of humanity (Musharraf) and we assure the affectees of Jamia Hafsa, the families of those killed in the tribal areas and Balochistan on Musharraf’s behest that they would get justice,” Ehsan remarked, adding “Musharraf is also responsible for the killing and handing over of hundreds of Arab Mujahideen and Dr Aafia Siddiqui to the Americans just for dollars.”

“My Baloch brothers, the TTP would avenge the ongoing atrocities against you but we request you to join hands with the Taliban for the implementation of true Shariah as your forefathers had done in the past,” he said adding, “we request you to get up for the implementation of true Shariah in the  country.”

Adnan Rashid wearing a brown Waziristani cap appearing in the video further said, “Our death squad for Musharraf include, suicide bombers, snipers and assault and close combat team and they are properly trained to accomplish their mission.”

Musharraf angered the Taliban and other groups by joining the US war on terror following the September 11 attacks and later launching a major crackdown on militancy in Pakistan.

Musharraf is due to return to Pakistan on Sunday from Dubai, after nearly four years of self-imposed exile, in time to take part in parliamentary elections on May 11.

The Bureaucratic Idiocy Which Guarantees That the Tribal Region Keeps Boiling for the “Dictator of Balochistan’s” Return

[SEE:  The Stunning Investigative Story on the Birth of Balochistan Liberation Army–Mar 1, 2005]

Balochistan peace to be restored through transparency in polls: Barozai

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Nawab-Barozai-CM-Balocihistan_670

Caretaker CM Balochistan Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Barozai. — File photo

QUETTA: Newly sworn-in caretaker Chief Minister of Balochistan Nawab Ghaush Bakhsh Barozai Saturday vowed to bring peace in the province through merit and transparency in the upcoming general elections.

Barozai, in his maiden statement here, stressed the need for taking drastic measures to ensure peace, improved law and order situation, merit and transparency.

“We are heading towards future, which is going to be shaped with our wisdom,” he added.

He said that the caretaker government was duty bound to work for the prosperity of the largest province of the country.

Nawab Barozai urged the people to elect the best leadership. It was      high time that the civil society should be enlightened to take the right decision and elect future leadership, which take the province on the real path towards prosperous future.

Giving the roadmap of his government, he said all efforts would be focused on holding fair, free, impartial and transparent elections. “To me this is the only way to assure each and every stakeholder of this province to get into the mainstream and I will do my maximum to facilitate everyone and to take all stakeholders on board.”

Barozai said that the future of Pakistan was linked with a stable Balochistan. The province is a land of opportunities as it is an international economic corridor, with potential hub for South Asian economic activities in future.

Terming strong economy a prerequisite for prosperity, he stressed that only political stability would guarantee that the province’s future was safe and prosperous in the days to come. “The only need is our commitment. I will remain committed to the sacred national cause till the last moment I will stay here,” he vowed.

He underlined the need for collective efforts and said that all the government functionaries, political parties, civil society, media and every one should join hands to bring peace to the land, which was known for its great traditions, peace and love.

He said negotiations were the only way to settle down any issue. “I am assuming office with a vision to put the province on right track through holding talks with those, who are striving for their rights,” he said and added that he had a roadmap for good governance and conduct of free fair and transparent elections in Balochistan.

Referring to law and order situation in Karachi and other areas of the country, he said if there was possibility of holding polls in the Sindh capital, where law and order was the worst, then why it was considered holding polls difficult in Balochistan where the situation was comparatively better, he said.

To a question, Barozai said that he had a long list of priorities. Good governance, issue of law and order, holding fair elections and establishing the writ of government would be the top most priorities of the caretaker government.

He urged the media to help the government in combating the issues faced by the people of the province.

Pakistani Amnesiacs Surrender Their Democracy, Allow Musharraf To Return To His Old Job

[I guess that means that Pakistan deserves whatever comes next, even if that means seeing the Nation broken down into new separate ethnic republics.  I used to be ashamed over all the ill will reserved for Pakistan, over its many years in total subserviance to the CIA’s many secret “Islamist” wars.  How can I continue thinking that Pakistan has largely been victimized because of the company you keep, when you welcome the principle evil-doers back to expand America’s terror war upon Pakistan once again?]

Ex-President Musharraf returns to Pakistan for elections 

Reuters

busharraf2
Pakistan’s former President, Pervez Musharraf, waves to his supporters upon his arrival from Dubai at Jinnah International airport in Karachi March 24, 2013.
REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro
Supporters of Pakistan's former President, Pervez Musharraf, chant slogans as they carry flags upon his arrival from Dubai at Jinnah International airport in Karachi March 24, 2013.REUTERS-Athar Hussain

By Akhtar Soomro

KARACHI | Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:30am EDT

(Reuters) – Pakistan’s former President, Pervez Musharraf, returned home on Sunday after nearly four years of self-imposed exile to contest elections despite the possibility of arrest and death threats from the Taliban.

Musharraf hopes to regain influence so that his party can win seats in the general election scheduled for May 11, when he will face fierce competition, including from the man he ousted in a military takeover.

“People said I would not come. Where are those people now? People were trying to scare me. I only fear Allah, no one else,” Musharraf said at Karachi’s airport, as more than 1,000 supporters cheered.

The former army general, who seized power in a 1999 coup, resigned in 2008 when his allies lost a vote and a new government threatened him with impeachment. He left the South Asian nation a year later.

Musharraf has been far removed from Pakistan’s numerous troubles during his exile in London and Dubai, where he lived in a posh part of the Gulf Arab emirate.

“Where has the Pakistan I left five years ago gone? My heart cries tears of blood when I see the state of the country today,” Musharraf said. “I have come back for you. I want to restore the Pakistan I left.”

Musharraf has not spelled out how he would do that as the election race heats up.

Pakistan’s military has ruled the nation for more than half of its 66-year history, through coups and from behind the scenes. It sets foreign and security policy, even when civilian administrations are in power.

But the powerful generals have meddled far less in politics than in Musharraf’s era, preferring instead to let civilian governments take the heat for the country’s failures.

The ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has had little success in tackling corruption, chronic power cuts and rebuilding the dilapidated infrastructure.

Pakistan may soon have to turn to the International Monetary Fund again to keep the economy afloat and avoid a balance of payments crisis.

A caretaker government, headed by newly-appointed Hazar Khan Khoso, a former judge, will make preparations for elections.

Musharraf may soon run into legal problems. He faces charges of failing to provide adequate security to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto before her assassination in 2007.

He also faces charges in connection with the death of a separatist leader in southwestern Baluchistan province. He denies any wrongdoing.

Musharraf had been granted bail in advance to avoid being arrested upon his return, but could be detained at a later date.

ELECTION CONTENDERS

It remains unclear whether Musharraf will regain influence in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed U.S. ally.

He is unlikely to beat former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, whom he removed in a military coup. He is believed to be the frontrunner in the election race.

Other contenders include cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who has been delivering speeches for months, hoping to tap into deep public discontent.

Musharraf’s most immediate concern may be Pakistan’s Taliban, who threatened in a video on Saturday to dispatch suicide bombers and snipers to kill him and send him to “hell”.

Musharraf dismissed the threats, but a rally he was supposed to hold on Sunday afternoon was canceled. Al Qaeda assassins tried to kill Musharraf at least three times in the past.

He angered the Taliban and other groups by joining the American war on terror following the September 11, 2001 attacks and by later launching a major crackdown on militants.

Militants were especially enraged when Musharraf’s security forces launched a full-scale attack on Islamabad’s sprawling Red Mosque in 2007 after followers of radical clerics running a Taliban-style movement from there refused to surrender.

The government said 102 people were killed in fighting when the complex was stormed.

Musharraf will have just two months to try to persuade voters his political party can deliver what others have not.

The odds are clearly stacked against Musharraf, a former commando who during the 1965 war with India leapt into a burning artillery gun to remove shells that would have killed wounded comrades had they burst.

While in power, he infuriated everyone — from the chief justice, whom he sacked, to lawyers who led a movement against him, to clerics.

But Musharraf always held up the economy as one of his successes and some businessmen are nostalgic for the days when he ruled.

Critics have said he suffers from a “savior complex” and perhaps that is what led him home to face possible dangers.

One of Musharraf’s favorite films is the Hollywood blockbuster “Gladiator” — the tale of a Roman general’s triumph over the wicked emperor who betrayed him.

Musharraf ended his airport speech by leading chants of “We will save Pakistan”.

(Additional reporting by Mehreen Zahra-Malik and Simon Cameron-Moore; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Ron Popeski)

Islamic extremist wanted by Germany arrested in Turkey

Islamic extremist wanted by Germany arrested in Turkey

foxnews

Associated Press

BERLIN –  A security official says an Islamic extremist who has allegedly called for terrorist attacks on Europe has been arrested in Turkey and Germany will seek his extradition.

The German official said Friday Mohamed Mahmoud was picked up Tuesday in the southeastern province of Hatay near the Syrian border. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter on the record.

Mahmoud, who was jailed in his native Austria in 2007 for ties to al-Qaida, moved to Germany upon his release in 2011 and became an imam with the ultraconservative Salafi movement.

He was expelled from Germany in 2012 and resurfaced in Egypt where he is alleged to have produced online German-language videos for the Global Islamic Media Front calling for terrorist attacks in Europe.

Cyprus left reeling from haircut

Cyprus left reeling from haircut

Cyprus mail

THE DECISION to impose an unprecedented all-out haircut on Cypriot deposits was a painful one, but it was the only option to avoid bankruptcy of the state, said President Nicos Anastasiades yesterday.

They are scripting our wars, our lives and our future.

Tavistock Waging Full-Spectrum War Against Your Mind

Deep Cover: From Thinktanks
to Army Tanks

“In 1941 a group of psychiatrists at the Tavistock Clinic saw that the right questions were asked in Parliament in order to secure the means to try new measures. As a result they were asked to join the Directorate of Army Psychiatry, and did so as a group.” –Tavistock Institute

They wind you up because they know what makes you tick. Tavistock Clinic studied shellshock (post-traumatic stress) in WWI but switched to developing psychological warfare in 1922.  Rather than helping traumatized soldiers, it calculated their breaking points. Tavistock shock doctrine now permeates global life. Their social engineers are a Who’s Who:  Freud, Jung, Adler, Melanie Klein, Wilfred Bion, Edward Bernays, Eric Trist, A.K. Rice, Eric Miller, Aldous Huxley, and more.

Tavistock sent German-born psychologist, Kurt Lewin, to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1945 to establish the Research Center for Group Dynamics in the US. Lewin is the founder of ‘social psychology.’ The Center moved to the University of Michigan in 1948 where it became the Institute for Social Research, and continued to co-opt legitimate psychosocial research and exploit mass psychology. By then, the original Clinic became part of Britain’s National Health Service.

In 1946, the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations split off a policy-making “mother of all thinktanks,” publically claiming to research and direct groups and organizations while it continued massive covert operations in social engineering.  The thinktank registered as a charity in September 1947, in London, England. It devised and spread interdisciplinary models of Group Relations and training in management, administration and sociopolitics. Promoting creativity and organizational policy, it remains an influential intelligence organization tied to MI6, CIA, Project Paperclip German scientists, Rockefeller Foundation, and cryptocracy.

Founder, John Rawlings Rees, claimed: “Public life, politics and industry should all … be within our sphere of influence…If we are to infiltrate the professional and social activities of other people I think we must imitate the Totalitarians and organize some kind of fifth column activity! We must aim to make it permeate every educational activity in our national life … We have made a useful attack upon a number of professions. The two easiest of them naturally are the teaching profession and the Church: the two most difficult are law and medicine.”

Former MI6 Intelligence officer John Coleman first exposed their covert activities with his insider knowledge in The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations: Shaping the Moral, Spiritual, Cultural, Political, and Economic Decline of the United States of America: “The enemy is clearly identifiable as the Committee of 300, the Club of Rome, NATO,the Black Nobility, CFR and all of its affiliate organizations, the think tanks, and research institutes controlled by Stanford and … last, but certainly not least, the military establishment.”

Coleman includes the Eastern Liberal Establishment “aristocracy,” its banks, insurance companies, giant corporations, petroleum cartels, foundations, communications networks, publishing houses, radio and television networks and the movie industry. Mission creep has penetrated organizations far beyond ‘the Tavi,’ and they are scripting our wars, our lives and our future. As the power behind the thinktank thrones, instead of “doctoring the soul” the clone organizations systematically attack it. The consensual goals of mental health and group relations parted company. The promise became a curse.

Did Obama Facilitate Turkish/Israeli Embrace To Help Putin Co-Opt Mediterranean Gas Before Lebanon Gets A Cut?

“Israeli gas, together with possible additional discoveries in Cyprus, ‘might be a relatively inexpensive means for Russia to help it meet its export commitments to European consumers in lieu of very expensive planned natural gas production in Russia itself.’”

How to Move Cyprus’ (Prospective) Gaz Bonanza

natural-gas-europe-2  October 31st, 2011

Energy experts and politicians alike agree that a pipeline running from Cypriot gas fields onto Turkey and then linking to the proposed Nabucco conveyor would make the most sense, both from a technical and financial standpoint.

But pipelines need stability; deals can go sour even among the best of friends. By contrast, giving Russia gas concessions might be the easy answer for Cyprus; but is it the best?

The Nabucco conveyor is a proposed natural gas pipeline from Turkey to Austria diversifying natural gas suppliers and delivery routes for Europe. An intergovernmental agreement between Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria was signed on 13 July 2009.

Motivated by a desire to lessen European dependence on Russian energy, the Nabucco project is backed by several European Union states and the United States and is seen as rival to the GazpromEni South Stream pipeline project. At the same time, there are doubts concerning viability of supplies.

A gas pipeline from Cypriot prospects to Turkey is probably the fastest and cheapest option, says Peter Wallace, an energy consultant who has worked with most oil majors around the world.
Given estimates that Block 12, the area where exploratory drilling is currently underway, may hold up to 10 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas, it’s clear that Cyprus would need to export the bulk of these quantities.

“We’re talking about an island with a total population of one million, with estimated reserves of at least 10 tcf, enough to satisfy the country’s energy needs for 150 years. To put that into perspective, that’s one-quarter of the total reserves of the United States (some 40 million tcf),” says Wallace.

“So the next question is, do we pipe the gas or store it here for export? If we go for the latter, a liquefaction plant would set you back $8 billion, all in.”

He adds that if the finds pan out the liquefaction plant would process five million tonnes per annum (mpta) at least. “If you’re going to build a plant like that, your export market is the whole world, not just Europe.”

But the sheer scale of the project could mean it takes a decade before the gas comes on-stream. Wallace cites a comparable project, the Browse LNG export facility off Western Australia’s north-west coast.

With a capacity for 10mtpa, the facility was first conceived in 2004, but is not expected to be online before 2015, says Wallance, who was chief engineer on the Browse project. And he calculates that building an LNG plant here from scratch might take seven to eight years, at a minimum. That’s assuming there are no delays or complications.

The alternative is a pipeline conveying the gas in its naturally-occurring form to markets abroad. Here, there are two main options. One is a pipeline with the accompanying infrastructure running from Block 12 to Athens. But the distances involved, the sea depth and the geology of the seabed would render this task prohibitive, both financially and time-wise.

The second option is a pipeline from the Levant Basin, to Cyprus and then onto Turkey. Although these are rough estimates, a project like would have a completion timeframe of three to four years, and a price tag of some $750 million.

“Israel has so much gas on its hands from the Leviathan and Tamar fields, but it’s got nowhere to send it,” says Wallace. “It’s highly unlikely they’ll work with their Arab neighbours. Moreover, building a liquefaction facility in Israel does not sound like a very attractive idea, given the tense situation in the Mideast. The most logical step for the Israelis would therefore be to export it via Cyprus.”

It may not be much to go on, but the example of Algeria and Morocco furnishes one precedent of energy collaboration made possible in spite of political friction between nations.

“Despite their differences, there is a pipeline running from Algeria through Morocco and across the straits of Gibraltar to Spain. The greenback is the great neutraliser,” Wallace says.

But he’s quick to acknowledge there’s a long distance to travel from what’s desirable to what’s feasible:“Obviously, a possible collaboration with Turkey is hugely contentious politically. It’s a long shot, yes, but perhaps they should start considering it.”

Another tricky situation, even assuming Cyprus and Turkey somehow were to set aside their dispute and cooperate on a pipeline, is that they would still have to agree on the location of a gas compression station.

A compression station is needed in order to keep the gas inside the pipeline at a constant pressure. But would the station be situated in the government-controlled areas or in the north?

Doing business with Turkey calls for a political paradigm shift, but if that’s what it takes for peace and security, why not, asserts a member of the House Committee on Foreign and European Affairs and a member of the opposition.

“Right now both sides are playing a zero-sum game. There are those on our side who say: now that we’ve found gas we shall kick the Turks’ backside. That is just nonsense. It doesn’t work that way. Nor will the Turks back off. So perhaps we should explore situations where everybody wins.”

Protests that the Republic’s sovereign rights are being violated by Turkish exploration in Cypriot waters are certainly justified, says the source who did not want to be named. But the time-honoured policy of lodging protests to the United Nations achieves little.

“What happens if tomorrow Turkey starts drilling for gas right next to Noble, in the area which we defined as our Exclusive Economic Zone? We lodge a protest, as always. Ok, then what?” he says.

The EU can only go so far, he says, questioning why EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton did not make stronger statements about the Turkish threats. “She stuck to the essentials: urging Turkey to refrain from making threats and encouraging Ankara to normalise relations with EU member states.”

According to the same source, recent gas finds in the Levant have generated a buzz in European circles because Europe is eager to lessen the continent’s energy dependence on Russia.

“For the first time, there is a potential convergence of interests between Cyprus and Turkey,” he says.

“Russia for its own reasons is seeking to undermine the Nabucco venture, cutting its own supply deals with Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Given doubts concerning the viability of supplies for the Nabucco, the pipeline may well need extra gas coming from elsewhere. Why not from the Levant Basin? That’s where we’d come in.”

While concurring that a Cyprus-Turkey pipeline would be the best solution, former Foreign Minister Nicos Rolandis says the discussion is purely academic at this juncture.

“As things stand, the probability of collaboration with Turkey is zero,” comments Rolandis. “Turkey does not recognise us, why would they buy gas from us? After all, they say that Cyprus’ offshore gas reserves belong to them too.

“And as far as we’re concerned, we’d never agree to do business with Turkey because of the ongoing occupation. Anyway, I doubt anyone here, on the Greek Cypriot side, would so much as dare suggest this. All hell would break loose on the domestic scene.”

Rolandis reiterates his proposal for an escrow account to be set up for the Turkish Cypriot community into which would be placed the proceeds from any gas finds. The percentage of the proceeds would be agreed in advance, and it would include a disclaimer that this arrangement does not set a legal or political precedent

The closest anyone has come to this is President Christofias when recently he offered Turkish Cypriots a share of the proceeds prior to a settlement.

But the problem, says Rolandis, is that Christofias’ offer was vague: “It sounded like an act an charity. It’s as if he was saying to the Turkish Cypriots, look, the gas is ours but we’ll throw you a bone.”

On speculation that the recent 6.5 billion euro Russian loan to Cyprus comes with strings attached – awarding Gazprom offshore gas licences and/or control of a liquefaction plant on the island – Rolandis believes it’s too early to speculate.

“We’ve been hearing all sorts of things lately. That a Russian fleet is sailing to the Mediterranean, that Gazprom has got an offshore licence through the back door. First let’s see how much gas we have and then we take it from there.

“The mere fact that oil majors, such as Gazprom, have bought the data on Cyprus’ plots does not necessarily mean they are interested. It means next to nothing. Companies buy data routinely. There’s a lot of sensationalism going around, a lot of misconceptions.”

Brenda Shaffer, senior lecturer at the University of Haifa, School of Political Sciences, likewise thinks that talk of Cypriot/Israeli/Turkish collaboration is premature and speculative.

“There are a lot of what-ifs,” she told the Sunday Mail. “First, you’ve got to ensure there is an export market. Presumably the Mediterranean reserves would be targeted at south-western Europe.

But given developments in the Caspian, it’s far from certain whether that market should be considered a given. Next, the Nabucco project is not even a certainty.”

She adds: “There’s a saying in the energy business: selling oil is a date, selling gas is a marriage. This is because natural gas requires infrastructure and therefore long-term stable political relations. Transit states in gas are problematic – usually it’s better for the gas to be exported by a supplier directly to the market.”

Moreover, Shaffer stresses that Israel, which views energy as a national security issue, has yet to make a decision to sanction the export of the natural gas. A government-appointed commission is currently looking into this.

Shaffer outlines a number of hurdles standing in the way of Israel acquiring export markets: one obstacle, which could well apply to the case of Cyprus, is that Israel’s gas discoveries appeared at a time when there is a glut in European natural gas markets.

“The current state of the European economy will likely preclude many costly new projects to enhance EU-member states’ energy security through lowering their portion of natural gas imports from Russia,” she writes in a recent article.

Shaffer argues also that Russia “possesses tremendously powerful levers of influence to thwart Israel from cutting into natural gas export markets in southern Europe, which is dominated by the Russian state-owned company Gazprom”.

She goes on to say that Israeli gas, together with possible additional discoveries in Cyprus, “might be a relatively inexpensive means for Russia to help it meet its export commitments to

European consumers in lieu of very expensive planned natural gas production in Russia itself.”

Source: Cyprus Mail

Erdogan Accepts Netanyahu’s Apology, Israel Calls-Off the PKK

[Does Turkey not see, or not care, that renewed hostilities with the PKK began early on the same day as the Mavi Marmara attack, the PKK attack upon the Turkish naval facility (preceding it by a few hours), and now imprisoned Kurdish leader Ocalan agrees to a new ceasefire in the hours preceding the Erdogan/Netanyahu “love fest”(SEE:  Turkish-Israeli diplomats to agree compensation for Mavi Marmara victims)?  If this is the 10% of Obama’s Mideast iceberg which we can see, then we can only guess at the hidden 90%.  The whirlwind of activity around the eastern Mediterranean are greater reflections of the “economic World War III” which can clearly be seen there.  Both Israel and Cyprus need Turkey to send their newfound gas to Europe.]

Med gas source

Israeli apology, the background story

hurriyet

MURAT YETKİN

murat.yetkin@hurriyet.com.tr

According to high-ranking sources, the diplomacy that resulted in an Israeli apology to Turkey over the Turks killed by Israeli soldiers in 2010 started some two weeks ago.American diplomats told their Turkish counterparts that U.S. President Barack Obama wanted to have an end to the Turkish-Israeli rift and wanted to open the subject up to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his visit to Israel, if Turkey wanted an agreement, too.

In the background of the latest U.S. moves there were many two incident on the same day. On Feb. 28 Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan, speaking at an international conference in Vienna said that Zionism was a “crime against humanity” like fascism, which triggered reaction in Israel and among the Israeli lobby in the U.S. and Europe. The same day U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said during a joint press conference with his Turkish hostAhmet Davutoğlu that the U.S. and Turkey do not share the same views on Israel.

On March 12, 89 members of the U.S. Congress wrote a letter to Erdoğan and asked him to retract his words on Zionism, which he did not; he said he stood behind what he said but he had been misunderstood.

It seems that letter triggered the U.S. move, since the White House wanted to see its two main allies in the region work together once again as they did until the “one minute” incident in Davos in 2009.

As Ankara said they could accept the good offices of the U.S. to have an agreement with Israel, based on an apology, the diplomacy started. Before the start of Obama’s visit on March 20, diplomatic drafts about the terms of a possible agreement started to go back and forth between Ankara and Jerusalem under the auspices of U.S. diplomacy.

The first positive step of goodwill, as a confidence-building measure, was taken as Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, the head of the Turkish Union of Chambers of Commerce (TOBB) was appointed as the head of the Arbitration Commission in disputes between Palestinian and Israeli businessmen on March 17.

The fact that there is still not a name for the new Israeli Foreign Ministry and Netanyahu assumes the office because of the corruption trial of Avigdor Lieberman, who opposes any apology to Turkey, made it easier for the Americans to get the deal closed.

At around 4 p.m. on March 22, Obama in Jerusalem in his last hours there called up Erdoğan. Following niceties, he passed the phone to Netanyahu. The two prime ministers agreed to issue the same statement in their capitals that would clarify an Israeli apology and compensation for the families of the Turks who were killed. Turkey softened its attitude on the third condition for an agreement, which was an end to the Israeli blockade on Gaza. Netanyahu, who takes the issue as its right of sovereignty, said Israel had already softened the embargo on Gaza since the revolution in Egypt and would take further steps depending on the situation in Gaza. The final text says anyway that Israel would take Turkish assistance in dealings with the Palestinians.

Following the conversation of around half an hour, Obama took the phone back, told Erdoğan that he was glad to see this happening and said “See you soon,” which was actually a sign that Erdoğan would get a White House appointment soon.

There is another interesting dimension of U.S. diplomacy between Turkey and Israel. Hours before the final move for an Israeli apology, the U.S. State Department issued a statement praising Erdoğan’s initiative to start a dialogue for a political solution to the Kurdish problem that resulted in a call by the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to stop its armed campaign.

There is one thing to be noted: Determination when you are right brings success. This is a success of the determination of the Erdoğan government regarding its policy on Israel. It also proved that Israel, despite the full backing of the U.S. government suffered more than Turkey because of the lack of relations between them. For the first time since its establishment in 1948, Israel regrets a military action.

This agreement will change the political balances of the whole region and will have implications on cases like Syria, Iran, Iraq and possibly Cyprus.

Saudis Aim To Colonize Lebanon, Creating A Single Islamic Emirate From North Lebanon To the Homs

Coming Soon: Al-Nusra Front in Lebanon

shoah palestinian holocaust

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross

english.al-akhbar.com

Lebanon has become an integral part of the plans of al-Nusra Front. Al-Qaeda’s fastest-growing offshoot is seeking to merge Lebanon’s extreme Islamist factions into a united front.

In mid-February, at a location in the barren hills surrounding the Lebanese town of Ersal, H. A. Dergham posed for pictures with dozens of his armed followers. Under the banner of Syria’s al-Nusra Front and behind a table draped with the Syrian “revolutionary” flag, he brandished a rocket-propelled grenade launcher in one hand and made a victory sign with the other.

Dergham is a principal suspect in the February 2013 attack on an army patrol near Ersal in which a captain and lieutenant were killed and several soldiers injured. The assault followed the attempted arrest of Khaled Hamid, who was described as the top al-Nusra Front “facilitator” in Lebanon.

Dergham’s group also works closely with al-Nusra Front in Syria, and has been playing a leading role in plans to establish a “branch” of the organization in Lebanon.

Al-Nusra Front was formed in Syria in 2011. It rapidly grew into the most prominent of all the country’s armed opposition groups once it was joined by like-minded former members of the Lebanese-based groups Jund al-Sham and Fatah al-Islam.

In March 2012, a group led by Majed Bin-Mohammed al-Majed, Saudi emir or “commander” of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, moved from the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in South Lebanon to Syria.

The rise of Islamist forces with an ideological affinity to al-Qaeda was aided by the declining influence of Fatah and the other Palestinian nationalist factions in Ain al-Hilweh.Their intended aim was to take over the leadership of al-Nusra Front, and replace its commander, known as Abu-Mohammed al-Joulani, with Majed. But once in Syria, many of his followers turned against him and sided with Joulani. He returned to Ain al-Hilweh.

Meanwhile, the ex-members of Fatah al-Islam and Jund al-Sham got on with the task of training and organizing Joulani’s men. Within a few months they managed to improve al-Nusra Front’s performance and organization, turning it into the most formidable armed faction in Syria and an important front for al-Qaeda’s global jihad.

Al-Nusra Front’s Reach in Lebanon

Currently, about a year and half since its launch, the Front has a network of associated groups based in Lebanon. Its members come from a variety of different countries, which provide it with logistical, material, and combat support, especially in its battles in the vicinities of Homs and Damascus.

These Lebanese groups have plans to merge militarily and organizationally into a unified Lebanese chapter of al-Nusra Front. Dergham’s group is the most closely associated with the plan. Based around Ersal, it provides extensive logistical support to al-Nusra Front.

The rise of Islamist forces with an ideological affinity to al-Qaeda was aided by the declining influence of Fatah and the other Palestinian nationalist factions in Ain al-Hilweh. Their involvement in the Syrian jihad has bolstered support for their extremist views. This is at the expense of Hamas’ Usbat al-Ansar, to whom they previously used to defer in exchange for protection.

The other main component of the planned Lebanese al-Nusra Front is the so-called Tripoli bloc, consisting mainly of Hussam al-Sabbagh’s group of 300-400 fighters in the city. A number of smaller groups based in North Lebanon and the Bekaa are also expected to join the merged organization.

One proposal, espoused by Sabbagh, is to establish a single Islamic emirate spanning from North Lebanon to the Homs countryside. Another suggestion is to mount a series of surprise actions in different parts of Lebanon, with the aim of suddenly raising security tensions throughout the country, and announcing: We’re here, our time has come.

Reports indicate that the organizational steps needed to form the merged Lebanese al-Nusra Front are complete, but the Front is awaiting the right political circumstances for its launch.

CIA “Not Supplying” Heavy Weapons To Syrian Terrorists, But Teaching Them How To Use Them

[Notice the red Saudi-colored headscarves.–SOURCE]

CIA Expands Role in Syria Fight

Wall St. Journal

 

Agency Feeds Intelligence to Rebel Fighters, in Move That Deepens U.S. Involvement in Conflict

By ADAM ENTOUS, SIOBHAN GORMAN and NOUR MALAS

The Central Intelligence Agency is expanding its role in the campaign against the Syrian regime by feeding intelligence to select rebel fighters to use against government forces, current and former U.S. officials said.

The move is part of a U.S. effort to stem the rise of Islamist extremists in Syria by aiding secular forces, U.S. officials said, amid fears that the fall of President Bashar al-Assad would enable al Qaeda to flourish in Syria.

 

The expanded CIA role bolsters an effort by Western intelligence agencies to support the Syrian opposition with training in areas including weapons use, urban combat and countering spying by the regime.

The move comes as the al Nusra Front, the main al Qaeda-linked group operating in Syria, is deepening its ties to the terrorist organization’s central leadership in Pakistan, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials.

The provision of actionable intelligence to small rebel units which have been vetted by the CIA represents an increase in U.S. involvement in the two-year-old conflict, the officials said. The CIA would neither confirm nor deny any role in providing training or intelligence to the Syrian rebels.

The new aid to rebels doesn’t change the U.S. decision to not take direct military action. President Barack Obama last year rejected a CIA-backed proposal to provide arms to secular units fighting Mr. Assad, and on Friday he reiterated his argument that doing so could worsen the bloodshed.

He also warned that Mr. Assad’s fall could empower extremists. “I am very concerned about Syria becoming an enclave for extremism because extremists thrive in chaos, they thrive in failed states, they thrive in power vacuums,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference in Amman, Jordan.

The new CIA effort reflects a change in the administration’s approach that aims to strengthen secular rebel fighters in hope of influencing which groups dominate in post-Assad Syria, U.S., European and Arab officials said.

The CIA has sent officers to Turkey to help vet rebels that receive arms shipments from Gulf allies, but administration officials say the results have been mixed, citing concerns about weapons going to Islamists. In Iraq, the CIA has been directed by the White House to work with elite counterterrorism units to help the Iraqis counter the flow of al Qaeda-linked fighters across the border with Syria.

The West favors fighters aligned with the Free Syrian Army, which supports the Syrian Opposition Coalition political group.

Syrian opposition commanders said the CIA has been working with British, French and Jordanian intelligence services to train rebels on the use of various kinds of weapons. A senior Western official said the intelligence agencies are providing the rebels with urban combat training as well as teaching them how to properly use antitank weapons against Syrian bunkers.

The agencies are also teaching counterintelligence tactics to help prevent pro-Assad agents from infiltrating the opposition, the official said.

Among other U.S. activities on the margins of the conflict, the Pentagon is helping train Jordanian forces to counter the threat posed by Syria’s chemical weapons, but isn’t working directly with rebels, defense officials say.

The extent of the CIA effort to provide intelligence to Syrian rebels remains cloaked in secrecy. The U.S. has an array of intelligence capabilities in the region, mainly on the periphery of the conflict.

The U.S. uses satellites and other surveillance systems to collect intelligence on Syrian troop and aircraft movements as well as weapons depots. Officials say powerful radar arrays in Turkey are likewise used to track Syrian ballistic missiles and can pinpoint launch sites.

The U.S. also relies on Israeli and Jordanian spy agencies, which have extensive spy networks inside Syria, U.S. and European officials said.

The current level of intelligence sharing is limited in scope because the CIA doesn’t know whether it can fully trust fighters with the most sensitive types of information, several U.S. and European officials said. The CIA, for example, isn’t sharing information on where U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies believe the Syrian government keeps its chemical weapons, officials said.

Rebel leaders and some U.S. lawmakers say more robust U.S. support is needed to turn the tide in the civil war. These officials say the CIA’s current role comes as too little, too late to make a decisive difference in the war.

In a letter to Mr. Obama this week, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, joined Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona in calling for the president to take “more active steps to stop the killing in Syria and force Bashar al-Assad to give up power.”

Sens. Levin and McCain urged the White House to consider using precision airstrikes to take out Mr. Assad’s air force and Scud missile batteries, among other military options.

The CIA got a green light from the White House last year to look for ways to provide limited support to the rebels, current and former officials said. But officials say the ramp-up has been slow, in part because of the difficulty of identifying reliable partners among the Syrian opposition to work with the U.S.

A senior U.S. official said the decision to provide actionable intelligence to vetted rebel units “shows that we’re working on the humanitarian level and the diplomatic level and on the intelligence level.”

“This would be a more direct level of engagement on the intelligence front,” the official added.

Officials said one of the advantages of providing actionable intelligence to rebel units is that such information is generally of operational use for a limited period because would-be targets move around the battlefield.

Arms, in contrast, can be used for years and passed between groups, reducing U.S. control over where they end up.

The shift in part reflects growing Israeli concerns about the limited ability of the U.S. to shape the outcome in Syria. In recent months, Israeli officials have privately pressed their European and American counterparts to strengthen secular forces in Syria because of concerns that the al Nusra Front will become more entrenched the longer the civil war drags on, according to Israeli and European officials.

Israeli officials are concerned that the U.S. reluctance to more directly intervene will limit Washington’s leverage in a post-Assad Syria. “Israel would welcome America’s influence in shaping the post-Assad Syria” said a senior Israeli official involved in deliberations on the neighboring Arab country.

U.S. and European officials said they fear that the al Nusra Front, which has seized control of swaths of northern Syria, could dominate the country once Mr. Assad falls.

U.S. counterterrorism officials said they have seen a growth in communications among operatives from al Nusra Front, al Qaeda in Iraq and al Qaeda’s central leadership in Pakistan. Officials also report growing numbers of al Qaeda fighters traveling from Pakistan to Syria to join the fight with al Nusra.

The ties to al Qaeda’s central operations have become so significant that U.S. counterterrorism officials are debating whether al Nusra should now be considered its own al Qaeda affiliate instead of an offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq, as it has generally been viewed within the U.S. government, according to a person familiar with the debate.

Al Nusra is “an organization that resembles an army more than a quaint little terrorist group,” said Seth Jones, an al Qaeda specialist at the Rand Corp. think tank in Washington. “As this war drags on against Assad and as long as they are able to build up their capabilities, it’s going to make it all the more harder to target them once the regime falls.”

Write to Adam Entous at adam.entous@wsj.com, Siobhan Gorman at siobhan.gorman@wsj.com and Nour Malas at nour.malas@dowjones.com

Saudi Perverts Harvest 12-year old Brides from Decimated Syrian Refugee Population

Syria’s refugee brides:’My daughter is willing to sacrifice herself for her family’ 

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Refugee brides: Woman takes a cut to help Syrian refugee girls in Jordan find Arab grooms from all over Middle East
Um Majed, a 28-year-old Syrian refugee, procures young brides for Arab men all over the Middle East.

Um Majed, a 28-year-old Syrian refugee, procures young brides for Arab men all over the Middle East.

By: Foreign Affairs reporter

AMMAN, JORDAN—Nezar’s face is tight with expectation as she arrives for the meeting. She is a heavy-set mother of 12 and as she arranges herself on the small sofa in Um Majed’s living room she removes her black veil and the pious black gloves that allow her to shake hands with men who are not her relatives.

Um Majed sets down small cups of hot Turkish coffee to ease the tension. Nezar is a Syrian refugee and looking for a husband for her daughter. She lists the girl’s qualities.

“She is tall and pretty,” she tells Um Majed. “She finished the seventh grade.”

“There is one available. He is Saudi,” Um Majed answers.

This is what Nezar wants to hear. Saudis, flush with petrodollars, will pay well. She has high hopes for this Saudi.

So does Um Majed who will earn a $287 fee if the two sides agree to the match.

Um Majed, 28, is also a Syrian refugee, a former housewife from Homs. Um Majed isn’t her actual name but a respectable Arab moniker meaning ‘mother of Majed,’ her young son. She doesn’t want her full name published because of her shame about what she does for a living: procuring brides, some as young as 12, for men as old as 70 from all over the Middle East in exchange for money.

Nezar too was a homemaker in Homs who arrived in Jordan last year. Her husband was a taxi driver but he can no longer work because he has a heart condition. Her son is badly injured.

“He was a fighter with the resistance army and they were removing a roadblock the regime set up on the street when he was hit by a missile,” she explains. “Four others died. He has had three surgeries and needs another one.”

Her daughter Aya is their best hope.

“My daughter is willing to sacrifice herself for her family,” Nezar says. “If the war had not happened I would not marry my daughter to a Saudi. But the Syrians here are poor and have no money.”

Nezar’s daughter is 17. The Saudi groom is 70.

Stories of men fighting and dying to overthrow President Bashar Assad’s regime have fixated the world but for women the war has different, troubling dimensions. Syrian women and their children make up 75 per cent of the 429,000 refugees in Jordan. The vast majority do not live in the camps set up by the Jordanian authorities. They flood into cities like Amman where they live on the charity of kindly Jordanians and aid organizations.

Many of these women are not equipped to support their families, having been raised to keep the home and hearth while husbands and fathers provided for them. The true cost of how the war is ripping apart the nation is evident in the brutal life choices Syrian women are forced to make to survive.

Grasping for the security of a husband and home, hundreds of girls are being sold into early marriage. These are undoubtedly forced marriages but the truth has several shades of grey: some mothers believe they are protecting their daughters from further hardship and violence, others are desperate to pay the bills. Yet their voices are rarely heard because their lives are lived behind closed doors, their private tragedies not shared with outsiders.

“If you see how Syrians here live you will see why they marry their daughters to whoever will take them,” Um Majed says. “People are poor and they will do anything to pay the rent.”

The surplus of desperate Syrian refugees means marriage has become a buyer’s market with some grooms offering as little as $100 cash for a bride.

The legal age of marriage in Jordan is 18 but some religious clerics will marry underage girls for a small fee. This puts the girls at even greater risk for exploitation because some of Um Majed’s clients want a temporary union lasting a few weeks or months after which the girl is returned to her parents.

In other words, it is religiously sanctioned prostitution.

“One of my brides has been married three, four times,” Um Majed says. “She is 15.”

Yet Nezar believes she is saving Aya from a life of hardship. What are her daughter’s prospects in Jordan where she has no right to work? There is little hope of the war ending and returning home. She will soon become a burden on her parents. No, a life in Saudi Arabia with a husband who can provide a home and children, perhaps send money back to Jordan, is the answer.

She admits the marriage market is hazardous. Most of the potential grooms offer a few dollars to leer at her daughter.

“You are already selling your daughter, you might as well sell her to someone decent,” she says.

Nezar cuts the meeting short. Aya is having belly-dancing lessons to increase her appeal to the elderly groom.

“I will take 3,000 dinars ($4,300) from him,” she tells Um Majed. “If he was younger I would accept 2,000 dinars.”

*

In the old days, the neighbourhood busybody, a matronly figure, was the matchmaker. She would appraise the unmarried girls on her street on behalf of the grooms’ families. At the Turkish bath, the would-be bride was paraded like a prizewinning filly: her mane tugged to check she wasn’t wearing a wig, a walnut cracked between her molars to make sure her teeth were real. In a society where women, especially unmarried girls, do not mingle with men not related to them, or even venture outside the home at risk of being labelled sexually loose, many families relied on matchmakers to find the right bride for their sons.

Um Majed raises a cynical eyebrow at this innocent archetype as she strikes a match and lights a cigarette. She became a matchmaker when she approached a local Islamist charity for food and the manager asked if she “knew any pretty girls.”

“I have 10 families looking for grooms,” she says. “Their girls are between 12 and 21. The grooms are always in their 40s, 50s, or 70s. They want beautiful girls, the younger the better.”

She pauses and takes a drag of the cigarette.

“The Saudis usually ask for 12-year-olds.”

As she sees it, life has become about exploiting or being exploited.

“I have to feed my children,” she says.

“What does freedom mean?” she asks. “We were living with pride and in our own country. I asked my husband this question. He said that they are Alawites and we fight them. But the Saudis are Sunni like us and they harass Syrian girls. Is this religion? Is this freedom?”

Her husband owned a car wash in Homs. Last year, he was hit by a stray bullet and after Um Majed nursed him back to health he joined a militia fighting with the Free Syrian Army.

“I now wish the bullet pierced his heart,” she says bitterly. “He abandoned me to fight and left me with the burden of supporting the family.”

Syrian brides have always been sought after, especially by Gulf Arab men. There is an expression which roughly translates as ‘he who does not marry a Damascene will never know a night of peace.’

The stereotype of the houriya, Levantine beauties with pale faces, speaking the melodious Syrian Arabic dialect and purveyors of a famous cuisine holds great appeal. A Syrian hostess’s reputation can rest on the balance between the olive oil and lemon juice in her tabbouleh salad.

In the Middle East, the groom or his family are expected to provide maher, roughly translated as dowry. If he is a good catch he will approach the girl’s family with a fully furnished flat, perhaps a car, and bank statement proving his savings.

Zayed Hamad who runs Kitab al Sunna, a Sunni Islamist charity that helps women refugees and receives funding from Saudi Arabia, says he receives 100 phone calls, emails and even text messages a month from grooms all over the Middle East looking for wives. Some are looking for a bargain.

“Some believe if they marry a Syrian girl it is cheaper,” he says. “I get approached by the brothers but I say it is not my responsibility to find them brides.”

He says it is a good thing as these girls will have more secure futures.

*

Eman is a typical Damascene beauty with her pale skin and hazel eyes. At 29, she is considered an older bride and has two daughters from her ex-husband whom she divorced because she caught him in bed with his sister-in-law.

Eman is tired of the war and its slogans.

“I curse the people who call for freedom,” she says. “But Bashar invited the devil to Syria.”

She fled to Amman with her girls late last year. All refugees are meant to stay in the Zaatari camp, a dusty, sometimes violent shanty town on the north border. The main drag is nicknamed the Champs Elysees and sells everything from shoes to shawarmas. Women dig small holes in the ground near their tents to avoid trips in the dark to the public toilets because they are afraid.

Eman refuses to live there. “It’s horrible,” she says. Instead, she rents a small apartment in Amman with her children, sister and mother for 150 dinars a month.

But life in the capital without the protection of a husband or father is hard. When Eman first arrived she would go to charities and mosques for food and mattresses where her soft Syrian accent immediately attracted attention.

“Wherever I go I get proposals,” she says with more weariness than pride. “They ask, can I smell your perfume for 20 dinars? ($28) Can you lift your veil for 35 dinars ($50)? I’d rather die of hunger than do something wrong.”

Just yesterday she heard about a rich man giving away cash at the local mosque so she went to investigate.

“He was giving $100 and gave money to all the others and told me to wait,” Eman says. “When everyone was done he asked me to call him in the morning at his hotel. I said I’d come with my mother. He said come alone. He would give double the money. I told him he was ridiculous.”

She works from home, shelling peanuts for a factory and earning 2.5 dinars ($3.50) for every 10 kilograms of nuts she peels. Eman wants to marry soon so she doesn’t have to expose herself to unwanted attention.

“I want a real husband and a real marriage, someone like Muhandin,” she says, and giggles. He is a Turkish actor in a popular soap opera.

Um Majed, though, has no time for romantic dreams.

A new client, a Jordanian man aged 29 wants a young bride from the Zaatari camp. He will give Um Majed fake documents and they will pose as charity workers to gain access to the families and size up their daughters.

“Some families accept 50 dinars (72) to let the groom look at their girls,” she says. She has done this ruse several times.

Um Majed will get her cut for brokering the arrangement. But she insists it will be a food package, not cash.

A country awash with conspiracy theories to explain hard line on bailout

A country awash with conspiracy theories to explain hard line on bailout

THE IRISH TIMES

Cypriots suspect EU hidden agenda

People eat at a restaurant under a banner placed by the owner in central Nicosia. The banner reads: “My proud Cyprus with the big No.” People eat at a restaurant under a banner placed by the owner in central Nicosia. The banner reads: “My proud Cyprus with the big No.”

Michael Jansen

Cyprus is buzzing with conspiracy theories over why its Eu ropean partners and the International Monetary Fund are adopting a hard line over the bailout.

The most widely believed theory is that leaders of the Europe an People’s Party, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny and German chancellor Angela Merkel, supported the presidential bid of fellow EU parliamentary bloc member, Nikos Anastasiades, in the expectation that once in office he would capitulate to the troika’s price for a partial bailout.

However, President Anastasiades, who did not like the terms laid down, could not muster even the votes of members of his own Democratic Rally in parliament who, to avoid embarrassment, abstained on the ballot on the EU-IMF deal involving levies on bank deposits.

The second theory is that the EU is determined to shake the Cypriot economy and make it dependent on the bloc. This would allow Germany, the main bailout funder, to restructure the troubled Mediterranean economies to suit its purposes, essentially transforming them into captive markets for German goods.

Advocates of this theory argue that since last summer the Troika kept moving the goal posts during negotiations with Cyprus so that every time the government began implementing reforms new demands were raised with the aim of realising Germany’s objective.

The third theory holds that Germany, which has major political differences with Russia, is using the EU to play hard ball with Cyprus as its banks hold billions of euro in Russian deposits that will suffer serious losses from the scheme to cut deposits over €100,000 by between 9.9 per cent and 15 per cent.

The demand for heavy levies forces Cyprus to choose between Russia and the EU and puts pressure on Moscow to provide funds for Cyprus in order to preserve Russian deposits in Cypriot banks and to encourage Russians to keep their funds in these banks in order to maintain Cyprus as a useful financial hub.

Those advocating the fourth theory argue that the western powers and the US seek leverage to pressure the Cyprus republic to accept a disadvantageous reunification deal with Turkey, a modified version of the 2004 UN plan rejected by Greek Cypriots on the ground it preserved and legitimised the de facto partition of the island, divided since Turkey invaded and occupied the north in 1974.

This scheme would be to pave the way for Cypriot and, perhaps, Israeli, natural gas extracted from adjacent offshore fields, to be exported to Europe via a pipeline through Turkey rather than shipped to European ports at greater cost. Cypriot and Israeli natural gas supplies would make Europe less dependent on Russian gas.

“This is a third world war through the economy. The Italians will be next, and they know it,”

[Check-out the local comments

‘We will not become Germany’s slaves’

Cyprus mail

By Stefanos Evripidou
A protester clashes with police last evening

HUNDREDS OF Laiki (Popular) Bank employees gathered outside parliament last night after word got out that the government had prepared a bill for the second largest bank on the island to undergo restructuring.
As the sun set, news trickled out in the media of a plan to split the bank into a ‘good’ bank retaining healthy loans and a ‘bad’ bank which would take on ‘bad’ loans and work towards recovering as much money as possible.
Around 500 Laiki employees and their families gathered in an impromptu demonstration outside parliament, where the newly-prepared bills were expected to be taken for discussion in the plenum.
Some protesters managed to break through the police barricades and make their way to the parliament doors which were locked by police.
Greek journalists covering the demonstration mocked the Cypriot media’s depiction of tussles outside parliament, suggesting they were more like polite handshakes compared to what they’ve seen in Athens.
Protesters were furious about the lack of information about whether they would have a job tomorrow, and berated the absence of employees at the demo from other Cypriot banks.
Demonstrators held banners saying, “Who’s next?” and “We will not become Germany’s slaves” while shouting slogans like, “Today it’s us, tomorrow it will be your turn”.
Head of the banking union ETYK, Loizos Hadjicostis, called on all bank employees to go to parliament today ahead of an expected vote on the bill for the resolution and recovery of Laiki Bank.
He described yesterday’s developments as “unacceptable”.
One Laiki employee, Demetra Veresies, 47, asked: “Who is responsible for this? The bankers? The golden boys? The MPs who vote bills without knowing what they are? The German government that wants to punish Cyprus for reasons unknown? Who?”
Elena Constantinou, a Russian lawyer who’s been living 23 years in Cyprus, said she and her Russian friends from Limassol came to Nicosia to protest, without being employees of Laiki.
“What Europe is doing is not at all an act of friendship. With friends like that, who needs enemies? Once we sign the memorandum, our children and grandchildren will live as slaves,” she said.
“This is a third world war through the economy. The Italians will be next, and they know it,” added Constantinou.
She called on President Nicos Anastasiades to go himself to Moscow to speak with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to seek a way out of the crisis instead of sending his finance minister.
Asked about money laundering in Cyprus, she said, “There is no money laundering here. Money laundering takes place in England, Germany and Switzerland.”

America pulls out its troops from Wardak

Seems to be the United States of America Afghanistan on Wednesday (March 30/20 March), almost a month after the ultimatum, the president of Afghanistan, the withdrawal of coalition forces from the strategic province of Wardak agreed. (Photo: Archives)

On 24 February, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Wardak gave two weeks for the U.S. Special Forces, which is an important center of Taliban activity, leave. President of Afghanistan and the Afghans who work with Americans accused of torture and murder, which has led to alienation and anger people.

This source of tension between Kabul and Washington, with a surprising series of fierce criticism from the presidential palace against the international forces in Afghanistan.

Just hours before the announcement of the agreement, the Afghan president, NATO military operations in Afghanistan Zyrfrmandhy “indiscriminate and unwise” he said.

NATO commander in Afghanistan U.S. Gen. Dnfvrd the agreement announced NATO commander in Afghanistan U.S. Gen. Dnfvrd the agreement announced

ISAF commander U.S. Gen. Joseph Dnfvrd for talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai said: “I am pleased to announce that I’m looking for a series of constructive negotiations we agreed on a program of Wardak.”

ISAF said Afghan forces “soon” to the district, are prices that need to stay local Afghan police and coalition forces in the region, “rule” makes.

Rate is one of the districts of Wardak province. The statement said that “during the time the transfer takes place in the province.” But the date has not been announced.

Government minister Afghan defense ministry spokesman told AFP news agency that the rates of Special Forces, United States of America “in a few days’ leave, but he did not provide details about the problem.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai's two-week deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s two-week deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops

This agreement can be considered a compromise with Karzai. United States of America military officials said they have found no evidence that the alleged torture and killing of civilians by militias to confirm that they work with the Americans. Still a declaration of the United States Special Forces America, which did not tip a.

Relations between Karzai and Washington when it is increasingly difficult to be part of a NATO combat troops leave the country by the end of next year. But Karzai’s deputy spokesman has welcomed the agreement.

The secret is just to say: “The real demand of the people of Afghanistan and President. We welcome this agreement and expect to reach agreement on the final shape to be. ”

DW.DE

Using Terrorism To Pound the Pakistani People Into Submission Before They Beg for A Return To Military Dictatorship

[Pakistan will never be free from the scourge of “Islamist” terrorism, as long as the Army is unwilling to round up all of the Lashkar Jhangvi, Sipah Sahaba, TTP sectarian terrorists which it has trained and let loose upon the unsuspecting Pakistani people. This commentary is total hogwash, in that the author claims that the solution to terrorism is adequate protection from the police.  Nobody cares now if Shia are murdered by the dozens; why would that change?  The mass-murderers of Pakistan target every congregation of poor people.  Will there ever be enough police to protect all such meeting places?  No.  (I think that he is trying to inflate the importance of his former employers in this respect.)  The Army still rules Pakistan, using the terrorist outfits to punish the people until they become amenable to military solutions.  Do Pakistanis not yet realize the part that coddling terrorists played in the Sufi Mohhamad affair?  The Army let him have his way in FATA, so that the people would understand what life under his false Wahhabi/Deobandi “Shariah” really meant.  The romance of “jihad” quickly faded from their minds.  Until the military has a free hand throughout Pakistan, political terrorism will continue.  Look for a return of the real Dictator after his fellow officers pave the way for his return.]

busharraf

Counterterrorism strategy

THE military commanders have spoken. The message is loud and clear. The war against terrorism will go on.

“It was reiterated in unequivocal terms that a comprehensive strategy will be followed by the armed forces to combat the terrorist threat being faced by the country,” the principal military advisory body proclaimed after the recent Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee’s quarterly meeting. This military policy statement comes in the wake of two important developments. One, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) withdrew its peace talks offer on account of what it called the “non-serious attitude of security forces and the government”.

Second, while the federal and provincial chief executives were involved in a political tug-of-war over the establishment of caretaker governments, the military chose to fill this political void by raising a forceful voice against the threat of internal terrorism, in the process indirectly conceding that there was a serious civilian-military disconnect in pursuing a concerted policy and strategy on internal security issues during the last few years.

There is a clear message for the new caretaker governments that the armed forces want to pursue a “comprehensive strategy”, and that “all elements of national power would be utilised to combat and root out terrorism from the country”.

Another announcement by the military commanders pertains to their commitment to support and assist the Election Commission of Pakistan in the forthcoming elections.

It is an important promise that needs to be kept, especially in the wake of the TTP’s warning to the public to stay away from electoral activities as it regards elections as “un-Islamic”. It has also indicated that it will target “secular” politicians in the coming days.

Against this tense and grim scenario, the recent military declaration to combat and root out terrorism from our midst will come up against many road blocks and unexpected turbulence. This will happen especially if all the elements of national power are not engaged in this decisive phase against the terrorists and non-state actors who want to unravel the state of Pakistan.

Therefore, in the absence of political expediencies and compromises during the tenure of the interim caretaker governments, all state stakeholders dealing with national security need to forge a comprehensive policy framework. They must translate their resolve through determined and sustained counterterrorism operations so that the coming elections are not marred by violence and bloodshed.

All security agencies must realise that the great effectiveness multiplier in the use of state power against violence is the allegiance and support of the public.

It is hugely symbolic that 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai has returned to school in Birmingham for the first time after she was shot in the head by militants last October.
She represents the resilience of a young spirit and a beacon of hope for our society that is willing to incur sacrifices in the battle for the true spirit of faith.

Security experts firmly believe that capturing, killing, or imprisoning criminals who commit violent acts is possible only if the identification of perpetrators or targets is guided by precise intelligence.

The recent arrest of Qari Abdul Hayee, allegedly involved in the 2002 murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl, in Karachi is a case in point. The security and intelligence agencies finally succeeded in nabbing him through precise technical and human intelligence. The slain journalist’s family has hailed this arrest in a message from Los Angeles.

Similarly, intelligence-driven operations have led the Karachi police to apparently account for one of the killers of the respected social activist Parween Rahman and also trace and identify the culprits responsible for the sectarian carnage in Abbas Town.

Counterterrorism is primarily the responsibility of the police. Civil armed forces like the Rangers and Frontier Corps, intelligence agencies like Inter-Services Intelligence and the Intelligence Bureau, and the military play a basically supporting role.

The police can prevent and control terrorism in three ways: one, by protecting vulnerable people and places on the basis of assessments of the likelihood of attack i.e. target hardening; two, by investigating, arresting and prosecuting terrorist suspects, thus providing deterrence against future attacks; and three, by taking pre-emptive action designed to stop attacks before they occur on the basis of intelligence.

The protection of people and places should be ensured by specially trained armed police. Their protective ability will be increased substantially if the public itself takes protective measures, such as being alert to suspicious activity, monitoring access to premises and installing surveillance equipment.

Neighbourhood watch schemes and additional deployment of private security companies can be helpful. Police need to be able to work cooperatively with the private sector, coordinating activities and sharing information.

The key to the successful prosecution of terrorist suspects is reliable testimony from perpetrators, accomplices and witnesses. Recent legislation should make the police less dependent on public assistance as now they are allowed to submit evidence collected by covert means. However, supervisory officers need to make sure that no human rights violations take place while collecting such vital evidence.

Specialised counterterrorism segments of both the federal and provincial police departments should now play a greater role in achieving success against the terrorists.

The National Counter Terrorism Authority should achieve better coordination among all the state agencies dealing with terrorism. The ISI should have a legal framework to monitor and foil the designs of terrorists using our soil for refuge or to launch nefarious activities.

Joint interrogation teams should be notified by the interior ministry and home departments to assist the provincial crime investigation departments in finalising investigations against those accused of being involved in acts of terrorism.

All the law enforcement agencies, especially the police, can gain public trust and support on account of their professionalism, integrity, courage and total impartiality if the war against terrorism is to be won. Failure is not an option if we are to survive as a nation.

The writer is a retired police officer.

 

Will Syria Exist After The War?

Will Syria Exist After The War?

Author: Fadel

What will happen to Syria after this conflict?

Never has the Middle East seen such a divide between its nations since the inception of the Iran-Iraq War. On one side is the Gulf States: Qatar, Saudia Arabia, and the only non-Gulf State, Turkey. On the other side: Syria and Iran. You would think this was the Cold War with the United States on one side and Russia (formerly the U.S.S.R) on the other. Throw out your textbooks, the Cold War isn’t over. But, is this about the proliferation of arms? Or is this a more complex conflict that has led to the rise of religious extremism coalesced with the dilapidation of Arab nationalism?

When Ben Ali, Ghaddafi, and Mubarak were deposed by Salafis amalgamated with people legitimately opposed to the government for political and economic reasons; it became Assad’s turn to face the people. The issue with the attempt to abdicate Assad was, for the most part, sectarian in nature. Dr. Bashar al-Assad is one of the most educated leaders in the world. His English is spoken with remarkable fluidity and accuracy; he speaks English at a higher level of proficiency than most Americans. So, why was this man facing removal? He wasn’t corrupt like Mubarak; his wife’s family did not use her husbands political influence for their monetary gain like Ben Ali’s wife; and he did not obstruct education and create a personality cult like the late Ghaddafi. He was a simple man. The reforms were there. Syria’s economic climate was no different than the other countries in the world. He did not abuse minorities like Ghaddafi. The Druze in Syria were at peace with the government. Lebanon survived its 2005 Cedar Revolution without the increase of bloodshed within its borders. Now, the Assad regime was facing a threat that most were not prepared for – a proxy war between Israel and Iran.

“What! What does Israel have to do with this? Oh, I get it – you are throwing out the conspiracy card.” No, I am not. I am giving you the truth. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey are in for a surprise; they have been used for their wealth and influence. Do you really believe the United States supports Al Qaeda and religious zealots hell-bent on bringing religious hegemony to the world? Not a chance. It’s a regional war, so you have to use your resources to attain what you endeavor. The U.S. has strong ties with the three aforementioned countries. Israel, well, Israel does not. The Flotilla crisis still angers Turkey. Saudi Arabia is furious that Israel will not recognize Hamas in Gaza. Of course, there is Qatar, who offers nothing besides a wealth of oil and money. So, why are they blind to Israel’s hidden agenda? Well, because it’s aligned with their own political agenda. Remember, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend;” this is true.

Weapons are pouring into Syria, foreign Muslims are calling for Jihad against the ‘kafirs’ in Syria, and Syrians are fighting their own people. Nothing good has come from this in the Arab world. They are systematically destroying themselves for the greater good of Israel. What is the greater good of Israel? The isolation of Iran and the obstruction and destruction of Hezbollah. In 2006, Israel was embarrassed by the stalemate between their armed forces and Hezbollah. In fact, it was a victory for Hezbollah. Hezbollah received what they wanted in the end and Israel was forced to concentrate troops in the southern part of the land they plundered. They were on the side of Iran during the Iran-Iraq War and now they are sworn enemies. Do you think if they could predict the rise of Hezbollah in Lebanon that they would rethink their support of Iran during the war? I believe they would have. Iran becoming stronger only weakens Israel. Iran as a nuclear power creates fear and desperation on the side of Israel. They believe Iran and Hezbollah to be the biggest threat to the sovereignty of the reinvented Kingdom of David.

So, what happens when the FSA finally quits and foreign Jihadists are called to end their jihad. Qatar, Saudia Arabia, and Turkey will have failed to usurp Assad and have caused insurmountable destruction to Syria that all of their billions of dollars combined could not fix. The people who have perished in this conflict cannot be brought back. Their families will forever associate a stigma with those three nations. As the Syrian government rebuilds over the ashes of a once beautiful nation, the people will remember the deeds of those who used money and political influence to bring about their own political hegemony. Some will call for immediate reprisals against those three nations and I am sure there will be. Perhaps Assad grants clemency to the PKK after he arms them. Maybe he arms Saudi’s against their own government. I cannot tell you for sure.

Can Assad put everything aside for a harmonious Arab League? The answer is absolutely not. Syria needs to drop out of the Arab League and cut all ties with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey (until Erdoghan is out of office), and Jordan. He needs to strengthen his alliances with Iraq and Algeria. He needs to become the champion of anti-Jihad around the world. Countries like Mali could use a friend like him. He already has Iran as his strongest ally, all he needs to do is isolate Qatar and Saudi Arabia; but, he needs to do it without violence. The Saudi government is not as stable as it appears. They oppress minorities, deny women rights, and they are notorious human rights violators (You know they sat on the United Nations Human Rights Council – what a joke). As for Qatar, they are insignificant – truthfully. Do not listen to any English or American Middle Eastern analysts; they are under the influence of Qatar’s money, especially many academics and professors. My own aunt, whose name I will remain anonymous, takes her students to Qatar and finds them work. She also vehemently opposes Assad. She lives very comfortably, which is obvious with her income from all of her broadcasts on Al-Jazeera. Moving on, they will still use Al-Jazeera and the media to influence people. My hope is that people wake up and boycott their media.

Finally, good ole Israel. Well, former president Clinton had more relations with Monica Lewinsky than Syria has had with Israel. Syria will continue to support Hezbollah and Iran. Netanyahu and the rest of the Likud will become more aggressive with their words towards Iran. They will deny any involvement in the Syrian conflict; which is a lie. How are rebels coming into the Golan from Israel? You are telling me a country who has more checkpoints than a Nascar race does not have a checkpoint to block insurgents from coming into Syria? How about their aerial attack in southern Syria? Was that an accident or a clear violation of the U.N’s laws of warfare? You be the judge. Why did the news just report that Israel has confirmed 50,000 troops from Lebanon and Iran coming to Syria? They want to legitimize the Opposition using rebels from abroad by stating that Syria is using soldiers from abroad. Israel will never live at peace and they shall meet a heavily armed, well-trained Iranian Army one day in the near future. Unfortunately for them, their endeavor to remove the Assad regime so Iran cannot have a way to attack Israel directly will fail.

-Leith

Commander of Southern Command Reports Pentagon PsyOp for the Complete Militarization of Latin America On Schedule

[Gen. Kelly warns about possible Iranian terrorism merging with drug cartels in Central and South America.  At the nexus of terrorism and drug traficking you will always find the CIA.]

CIA Torture Jet crashed with 4 Tons of COCAINE, September 24, 2007  

A Gulfstream II jet that crash landed in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in late September bearing a load of nearly four tons of cocaine. This particular Gulfstream II (tail number N987SA), was used between 2003 and 2005 by the CIA for at least three trips between the U.S. east coast and Guantanamo Bay — home to the infamous “terrorist” prison camp — according to a number of press reports.

Kelly Warns of Potential Crime-Terrorism Nexus in Latin America

United States Department of Defense

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2013 – A potential connection between crime syndicates and terrorists in Latin America would constitute a clear danger to the region, U.S. Southern Command’s senior leader told reporters at the Pentagon today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, holds a news conference with reporters at the Pentagon, March 20, 2013. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly said the increase in Iranian influence in Latin America is worrisome, and an example of the peril that the combination of criminal networks and states that sponsor terrorism, like Iran, could pose.

Kelly, who took over U.S. Southern Command in November, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference that in the past six years Iran has tried to increase its influence in Central and South America. The Iranian government, he said, has built embassies and cultural centers in the region.

“The concern is that … they’re looking … for influence — say for votes in the U.N. on sanctions,” he said. “But also, and I’ve … made mention to some of our friends in the region that these guys are very, very good at what they do, and very, very skilled at what they do, and that people should just be careful as to who they’re dealing with.”

The general stressed he is not accusing Iran of sponsoring terrorism in Latin America, but he noted that Iran is involved in terrorism in other areas of the world.

“We do know that some terrorist organizations are able to skim off fairly substantial sums of money from the drug profits,” Kelly said. “And so there has to be kind of a network for that to happen.”

The criminal networks in Latin America are very sophisticated and very well financed, he said.

Drugs are the basis for this wealth and the drug-related money coming out of the United States “is astronomical,” Kelly said.

taliban bed of dollars2

“I mean palettes of money,” he said. “For a buck, anything can get on the [drug transport] network.”

That network, Kelly said, transports tons of drugs into the United States and Europe and moves bales of money back out.

“The point of it all is the network is a very dangerous thing to have working as effectively as it does, because anything can get on it,” he said.

Kelly said his command is working to build military-to-military contacts throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The good news about Latin America and my part of the world is that there are no wars,” he said.

And most Latin American countries, including Brazil — the world’s fifth-largest economy — want the United States as a partner, Kelly said.

The countries of the region don’t ask for much, the general said.

“When I go down and visit, they’re not asking for an awful [lot] — they’re not asking for money,” Kelly said. “They’re willing to pay their own way.”

What the Latin American countries need is expertise, the general said. For example, Peru is asking for help in getting its separate military services to work together better. Colombia needs help in countering improvised explosive devices that the terror group FARC and criminal syndicates use to protect coca fields and factories. Other nations need medical expertise.

Turning to another topic, Kelly noted that sequestration will hit his command hard. He said there will be fewer vessels to interdict cocaine shipments, and fewer troops to operate with partner militaries.

The Bloodsucking Barbaric Saudis Given Special “Fast Pass” Around Customs Intended for Civilized Nations

Saudi Arabia, the nation which produced 15 of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 attacks, is about to become one of a handful of countries whose travelers can bypass normal passport controls at major U.S. airports. Sources tell the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) that this will mark the first time that the Saudi government will have a direct role in vetting who is eligible for getting fast-tracked for entry into the United States.

An agreement to accept Saudi Arabian applicants into the Global Entry trusted traveler program drew little notice when it was announced in January. Now, some officials question why the country merits such a benefit – which is similar to a theme park “fast pass” to avoid long lines – when other allies like Germany and France are not yet included. A program for Israeli travelers was reached last May but has not been implemented.

Travelers approved for the program can skip the normal Customs and Border Protection (CBP) lines starting next year and enter the country after providing their passports and fingerprints at a kiosk. Only Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the Netherlands currently enjoy the benefit, although pilot programs could expand it to a handful of others.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the agreement in January after meeting with Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. It “marks another major step forward in our partnership,” Napolitano said at the time. “By enhancing collaboration with the Government of Saudi Arabia, we reaffirm our commitment to more effectively secure our two countries against evolving threats while facilitating legitimate trade and travel.”

Details about how the plan will work with the Saudis have not been released. Nayef’s ministry, however, will be responsible for screening which applicants will be considered when the pilot program begins next year. It’s not known whether the Saudi ministry will share its raw intelligence about applicants with its American counterparts. What is known, based on information provided by a Homeland Security source, is that each individual who makes it into the program will have been vetted by both the CPB and by the Saudi Interior Ministry against various databases.

The Department of Homeland Security declined to make anyone available to answer questions about Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the Global Entry program after repeated requests throughout last week, and after indicating someone would provide more details.

That is cause for concern, given lingering questions about possible Saudi support for some of the 9/11 hijackers and given the Ministry of Interior (MOI)’s inconsistent record on sharing its intelligence on suspected terrorists and terror financiers. Additionally, recent studies by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified significant problems in the way DHS components use computer systems and process intelligence for posting watch list lookouts and overseas screening of foreign nationals.

Once accepted into Global Entry, travelers can enjoy the faster border entry for five years.

A memo obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism said Saudi applicants “must meet the individual vetting criteria of both CBP and the MOI, and successfully complete vetting by each side against information available in various law enforcement, customs, immigration, criminal, intelligence, and terrorist databases.”

That doesn’t bring confidence to those who have investigated Saudi Arabian connections to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., whose district lost more than 70 people during the attack on the Pentagon, called the pact a bad idea. He also stated that he had not previously heard about the deal.

“I think you have radical Wahhabism in certain elements in Saudi Arabia, and I think to be more lenient there than in other places would be a mistake,” Wolf said. “There were 15 [hijackers] from that country, and there is a lot taking place in that region.

“Some of the people who went back to Saudi Arabia through Guantanamo – we find that they are in battlefields in Afghanistan or some other place, so I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Saudis have long been known for withholding information from their American counterparts. Wolf recalls that the Saudis obstructed former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s effort to investigate the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing by refusing to share information.

“I think there has been a history of not cooperating,” Wolf said.

The Saudis paved the way for 9/11 by funding the madrassas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, which adds to Wolf’s concern.

Unseen Information, Unanswered Questions

“Adding KSA to the program before a full vetting of the Kingdom’s involvement in 9/11 is very unwise,” said Sharon Premoli, a 9/11 survivor who has sued the Saudis for allegedly helping finance the attacks.

“We don’t know if what they tell us is correct. Why should we trust them?” she said in an interview Thursday. She points to a 1998 agreement Saudi Arabia struck with bin Laden and the Taliban prior to 9/11. A 2011 Vanity Fair article described it this way:

In sworn statements after 9/11, former Taliban intelligence chief Mohammed Khaksar said that in 1998 Prince Turki, chief of Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Department (G.I.D.), sealed a deal under which bin Laden agreed not to attack Saudi targets. In return, Saudi Arabia would provide funds and material assistance to the Taliban, not demand bin Laden’s extradition, and not bring pressure to close down al-Qaeda training camps. Saudi businesses, meanwhile, would ensure that money also flowed directly to bin Laden.

“They didn’t tell us that,” Premoli said in the interview. “They haven’t been forthcoming on anything.”

Saudi officials deny that deal existed. The only way to find out is to continue investigating, Premoli said. She’s perplexed that the brutal murder of 3,000 Americans even requires an effort to trigger additional investigation.

“Let’s vet them properly. Let’s really declassify. Let’s look at all of it. Until it is done, it’s an open wound. It’s an unanswered question.”

The Global Entry deal comes three years after U.S. officials briefly placed Saudi Arabia on a list of 14 countries whose travelers would face enhanced scrutiny when entering the United States. It followed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab‘s failed attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009.

A cable sent from the American embassy to the State Department that was published by Wikileaks reported that Saudi government officials expressed “shock to be included on the list” and threatened to “to re-evaluate areas of cooperation, including counter-terrorism cooperation” if it was not rescinded.

The policy was dropped three months later, replaced with a new program designed to use threat assessments and intelligence of traveler’s behavioral traits and travel patterns.

To Premoli, who is pushing legislation to strip sovereign immunity protection from governments tied to terrorist acts, both the removal of Saudi Arabia from that list and its addition to Global Entry show the country enjoys “favored nation status. It’s so extraordinary that they are so protected.”

She was critical of the Bush administration for its warm relations with the Saudi royal family and is equally critical of the Obama administration for being “a continuation of the Bush administration.” When the plaintiffs suing Saudi Arabia sought to appeal a decision absolving the Saudis to the Supreme Court, then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan filed an amicus brief siding with the Saudis.

Saudi Arabian officials say all the investigations into the 9/11 attacks exonerated them of any involvement. But two former U.S. senators who led inquiries into the attacks say that’s just not so.

In affidavits submitted last year for plaintiffs suing the Saudis – including Premoli – former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey and former Florida Sen. Bob Graham wrote that the book on Saudi Arabia’s 9/11 connections should not be closed.

The 9/11 Commission on which he served lacked the time and resources “to pursue all potentially relevant evidence” involving Saudi Arabia, Kerrey wrote.

“Significant questions remain unanswered concerning the possible involvement of Saudi government institutions and actors in the financing and sponsorship of al Qaeda, and evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th Attacks has never been fully pursued,” Kerrey wrote.

Graham, who was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time of the attacks, was co-chairman of a joint congressional inquiry. He has spent years arguing that a 28-page chapter from that inquiry would cast things in a different light if it ever is declassified.

“Based on my experiences as the Co-Chair of the Joint Inquiry, and the evidence collected by the Joint Inquiry during the course of its investigation into the events of September 11, 2001, the information contained in the Final Report of the 9/11 Commission, and reports and published material I have reviewed, I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia,” Graham wrote in his affidavit.

Hijackers and Their Helpers

That line may have come in the form of Omar al Bayoumi, a Saudi who befriended hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar. While the 9/11 Commission Report describes Bayoumi as “an unlikely candidate for clandestine involvement with Islamist extremists,” Graham believes he was a Saudi government agent.

Al-Bayoumi first met the hijackers in 2000, helped them find an apartment and “fronted the initial payments for that apartment” along with other financial help, Graham noted.

“During the period that he assisted the hijackers, al-Bayoumi’s allowances from a ghost job with a Saudi private firm and contractor with ties to the Saudi government increased eightfold. During that same period, Al-Bayoumi had an unusual number of telephone conversations with Saudi government officials in both Los Angeles and Washington.”

All this convinces him al-Bayoumi was a Saudi agent. “To this date, this evidence has not been fully explored and pursued, to the considerable detriment of the American public.”

In a column co-written with Premoli last fall, Graham said the classified chapter from the congressional inquiry focuses on the hijacker’s financial support while they were in the United States. “Sadly,” Graham and Premoli wrote, “those 28 pages represent only a fraction of the evidence of Saudi complicity that our government continues to shield from the public, under a flawed classification program which appears to be part of a systematic effort to protect Saudi Arabia from any real accountability for its actions.”

Abdulaziz al-Hijji, an executive with the Saudi government oil company Aramco, lived in Sarasota until just before the 9/11 attacks when he is reported to have suddenly left the U.S. Al-Hijji now lives in London. Recent media reports indicate al-Hijji met with 9/11 terror leader Mohamed Atta and current al-Qaida fugitive Adnan el-Shukrijumah while he lived in Sarasota. Graham has also looked into the al-Hijji matter and reportedly met with the FBI deputy director in November of 2011 and the deputy director refused to discuss the al-Hijji matter. Graham said, “I think that in the period immediately after 9/11 the FBI was under instructions from the Bush White House not to discuss anything that could be embarrassing to the Saudis.”

Saudi Arabia sends thousands of travelers into the United States each month, and more than 92 percent of Saudis who seek entry visas receive them, Asharq al-Awsat reported. In 2012, 20,677 student visas were granted to Saudi citizens.

The United States and Saudi Arabia do about $60 billion in business each year, most of which is Saudi oil exports.

The ambiguity of Saudi Ministry of Interior’s role is of particular concern, especially when it comes to who qualifies as a “low-risk traveler.” Although individuals with defined al-Qaida ties likely would not get a pass, worries arise particularly when it comes to those who support Hamas or Hizballah.

“I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them,” Jim Phillips, senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Heritage Foundation, said regarding the Saudi Interior Ministry.

Although the Saudi Interior Ministry has largely decimated al-Qaida’s infrastructure in the kingdom since 2003 in the wake of a series of bombings and killings of Westerners in the kingdom, Phillips says the ministry’s reliability as a partner remains an open question.

In an interview Tuesday, Graham reserved judgment on the program until more details are released on its implementation. He noted that the United States “went out of its way to placate the Saudis” after 9/11, arranging flights out of the country for Saudi nationals when all other air traffic was grounded, and waging “an effort to keep from public view the role of Saudis” in the 9/11 attacks.

Including Saudi travelers in Global Entry may be “a continuation” of an American policy of deference toward Saudi Arabia. “The question is what was the first step in approving a country to be involved in this? What are the requirements?” Graham asked. “This is not a theoretical. This really happened that 15 Saudis came into the country, I think all by aviation … It would seem there would be some red flags.”

Wolf suggested that the House Homeland Security Committee should examine the terms of the agreement to learn how it happened and it will work.

“It’s a slap in the face,” Premoli said. “Whatever they ask for, they get. There’s nothing they can’t have.”

The Road to World War 3

nuke4

The Road to World War 3

StormCloudsGathering

U.S. Economic Collapse Warning (Government Preparing)

U.S. Economic Collapse Warning (Government Preparing)

The Inate Evil of the American Terminator Program Cannot Be Hidden Under A Pentagon Banner

[The Pentagon and CIA have both been running parellel drone assassination programs concurrently in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  For some unknown reason, all drone attacks have been attributed to the CIA, even though no one outside of those two agencies really knows which drones carried-out the day’s murders, or whether the war crimes were committed by piloted aircraft, or even whose air force that day’s air assassins belonged to.  It seems that the CIA is often blamed for PAF attacks within FATA.  All terminator drone programs have been run out of US and Pakistani military bases.  For Obama to think that he can hide the more repulsive, better publicized CIA murder program beneath or within the Pentagon’s drone program, now that the political backlash against all drones is rapidly building, is ludicrous, although keeping within the parameters defined by the complete hypocrisy inherent in all of Obama’s “innovative” approaches to continuing the evil wars of George Bush.  All missile assassinations must end, as well as all illegal, criminal ‘paramilitary” (terrorist) operations.] 

Exclusive: No More Drones For CIA

the daily beast
Three senior officials tell Daniel Klaidman that the Obama administration is poised to shift the CIA’s drone program to the Pentagon.

At a time when controversy over the Obama administration’s drone program seems to be cresting, the CIA is close to taking a major step toward getting out of the targeted killing business. Three senior U.S. officials tell The Daily Beast that the White House is poised to sign off on a plan to shift the CIA’s lethal targeting program to the Defense Department.
US Pakistan CIA Drones

In this Jan. 31, 2010 file photo, an unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

The move could potentially toughen the criteria for drone strikes, strengthen the program’s accountability, and increase transparency. Currently, the government maintains parallel drone programs, one housed in the CIA and the other run by DOD. The proposed plan would unify the command and control structure of targeted killings, and create a uniform set of rules and procedures. The CIA would maintain a role, but the military would have operational control over targeting. Lethal missions would take place under Title 10 of the U.S. Code, which governs military operations, rather than Title 50, which sets out the legal authorities for intelligence activities and covert operations. “This is a big deal,” says one senior administration official who has been briefed on the plan. “It would be a pretty strong statement.”

Officials anticipate a phased-in transition in which the CIA’s drone operations would be gradually shifted over to the military, a process that could take as little as a year. Others say it might take longer but would occur during President Obama’s second term. “You can’t just flip a switch, but it’s on a reasonably fast track,” says one U.S. official. During that time, CIA and DOD operators would begin to work more closely together to ensure a smooth hand-off. The CIA would remain involved in lethal targeting, at least on the intelligence side, but would not actually control the unmanned aerial vehicles. Officials told The Daily Beast that a potential downside of the Agency relinquishing control of the program was the loss of a decade of expertise that the CIA has developed since it has been prosecuting its war in Pakistan and beyond. At least for a period of transition, CIA operators would likely work alongside their military counterparts to target suspected terrorists.

The policy shift is part of a larger White House initiative known internally as “institutionalization,” an effort to set clear standards and procedures for lethal operations. More than a year in the works, the interagency process has been driven and led by John Brennan, who until he became CIA director earlier this month was Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser. Brennan, who has presided over the administration’s drone program from almost day one of Obama’s presidency, has grown uncomfortable with the ad hoc and sometimes shifting rules that have governed it. Moreover, Brennan has publicly stated that he would like to see the CIA move away from the kinds of paramilitary operations it began after the September 11 attacks, and return to its more traditional role of gathering and analyzing intelligence.

Lately, Obama has signaled his own desire to place the drone program on a firmer legal footing, as well as to make it more transparent. He obliquely alluded to the classified program during his State of the Union address in January. “In the months ahead,” he declared, “I will continue to work with Congress to ensure that not only our targeting, detention, and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and systems of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world.”

Shortly after taking office, Obama dramatically ramped up the drone program, in part because the government’s targeting intelligence on the ground had vastly improved and because the precision technology was very much in line with the new commander-in-chief’s “light footprint” approach to dealing with terrorism. As the al Qaeda threat has metastasized, U.S. drone operations have spread to more remote, unconventional battlefields in places like Yemen and Somalia. With more strikes, there have been more alleged civilian casualties. Adding to the mounting pressure for the administration to provide a legal and ethical rationale for its targeting polices was the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a senior commander of al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate, who also happened to be a U.S. citizen. (Two weeks later, his 16-year old son was killed in a drone strike, which U.S. officials have called an accident.) The recent nomination of Brennan to head the CIA became a kind of proxy battle over targeted killings and the administration’s reluctance to be more forthcoming about the covert program. At issue were a series of secret Justice Department legal opinions on targeted killing that the administration had refused to make public or turn over to Congress.

It looks like the White House may now be preparing to launch a campaign to counter the growing perception—with elites if not the majority of the public—that Obama is running a secretive and legally dubious killing machine. For weeks, though the White House has not confirmed it, administration officials have been whispering about the possibility that Obama would make a major speech about counterterrorism policy, including efforts to institutionalize—but also reform—the kinds of lethal operations that have been a hallmark of his war on terrorism. With an eye on posterity, Obama may feel the time has come to demonstrate publicly that his policies, for all of the criticism, have stayed within the law and American values. “Barack Obama has got to be concerned about his legacy,” says one former adviser. “He doesn’t want drones to become his Guantanamo.”

But for the president to step out publicly on the highly sensitive subject of targeted killings, he’s going to have to do more than simply give an eloquent speech. An initiative like shifting the CIA program to the military, as well as other aspects of the institutionalization plan, may be just what he needs.

How does the CIA’s targeted killing program differ from the military’s—and what are the implications of shifting one program into the other? Perhaps most important is that the CIA’s program is “covert”—which is to say it is not only highly classified, it’s deniable under the law. That means the CIA, in theory, can lie about the existence of the program or about particular operations. The military’s targeted killing program, however, is “clandestine”—which means it is secret but not deniable.

Losing its drone program will, at some level, be a blow to the CIA’s identity.

There are other important differences between how the two programs are run, especially the process by which killing decisions are made. Since the inception of the drone program, targeting decisions have been made inside the CIA with little or no input from other agencies, though the White House sometimes weighs in. In deciding who should be placed on its kill list, the military, on the other hand, subjects itself to robust interagency vetting, where officials and lawyers from across the national security bureaucracy weigh in on individual targeting “nominations.” While the CIA’s process is said to be extremely rigorous—in some ways even more rigorous than the military’s—the opportunity for, say, the State Department legal adviser to be heard on lethal activities adds an extra layer of accountability. With the CIA’s program moving to the Pentagon, DOD’s vetting procedures will prevail.

Another difference is the role of Obama himself. Upon taking office, Obama had decreed that he would sign off on individual kill or capture operations conducted by the military away from traditional battlefields; he does not, by contrast, sign off on all CIA strikes. (Obama’s sign-off authority on military drone strikes was a subject of contention during the recent Brennan-led internal reform process, according to a current and a former administration official. At one point, the military pushed hard to take the commander-in-chief out of the process. But the State Department and other agencies argued that letting the president call the shots was the ultimate form of accountability—and Obama ultimately retained his authority.)

There are other ways in which the military’s program is more constrained than the CIA’s. Typically, though not always, the military’s lethal activities occur under a congressional grant of authority in the context of an armed conflict. The CIA can resort to lethal force simply when the president issues a covert finding—one that the American people may never know about. Another key legal difference: the military considers itself bound by international law and specifically the laws of war. The CIA, on the other hand, has signaled that while it follows “all applicable law,” international law does not necessarily apply to all of its activities.

To be sure, even with these distinctions, it is not clear that the bureaucratic shift will usher in a new era of openness and accountability. For one thing, targeted killing operations will likely be run by the highly secretive Joint Special Operations Command, the umbrella organization for shadow warriors like the Navy SEALs and DELTA Force. And while they run clandestine, rather than covert operations, JSOC is not known for its eagerness to advertise its operations with the press or Congress.

In fact, there’s at least a chance that the change could mean less congressional oversight rather than more. There’s nothing in the law that says the military has to brief congressional committees about its lethal activities. The CIA, on the other hand, is compelled under Title 50 to notify Congress of its intelligence activities. Says Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor and former Justice Department official during the Bush administration: “Moving lethal drone operations exclusively to DOD might bring benefits. But DOD’s lethal operations are no less secretive than the CIA’s, and congressional oversight of DOD ops is significantly weaker” compared to congressional oversight of the CIA. (Still, as a matter of policy, the Obama administration has taken it upon itself to “back brief” Congress after any of its targeted killings away from conventional battlefields.)

Losing its drone program will, at some level, be a blow to the CIA’s identity. The program has given the Agency a prominent and—ironically—highly visible role in the terror wars. And the spies can take credit for severely degrading, if not decimating, al Qaeda’s core organization in Pakistan. At the same time, according to multiple officials, there has been relatively little pushback from the CIA’s top leadership. One reason might be a sense of relief that the CIA would no longer own such a controversial program. The more likely reason? The man who engineered the idea—John Brennan—is now in charge.

Klaidman, a former NEWSWEEK managing editor, is writing a book on President Obama and terrorism to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2012.

For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at editorial@thedailybeast.com.

Long-Running War In Khyber Originally Cultivated By Saudis and CIA

[CIA used Bara extremist Haji Namdar (who had undergone ten years of Wahhabi indoctrination in Saudi Arabia) to set-up first “Radio Mullah” station and first Talibanized “religious police” in Khyber, to stage Shariah-enforcement attacks.  He even used the same name for his thugs as the Saudis, “Suppression of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue.”(SEE:  Waging War Upon Ourselves).  Namdar focused upon local Barelvi preacher Pir Saifur Rehman and his followers, before bringing-in radical Mufti Shakir for reinforcements.  Both sides raised their own radical armies, Pir Rehman formed Ansar Ul-Islam, Shakir formed Lashkar i-Islami, which he turned over to Mangal Bagh after arrest by government forces.  Ansar today wages war against both the LI and their supporters, the TTP of Hakeemullah Mehsud.]

Pakistan’s Islamist Militia Ansar Ul-Islam And Its Fight For Influence

RADIO FREE EUROPE

Qazi Mehboob ul-Haq (left), the chief of Ansar ul-Islam, with supporters

Qazi Mehboob ul-Haq (left), the chief of Ansar ul-Islam, with supporters

 

By Abubakar Siddique

January 29, 2013

A banned Pakistani militia whose formation can be traced to its loyalties to a Sufi cleric is now positioning itself as the last bastion of hope against extremists intent on controlling regions surrounding the historic Khyber Pass.

Ansar ul-Islam, which in recent days has been engaged in bloody skirmishes with the most hard-line and violent Taliban faction in Pakistan, has a history of fighting against fellow militant Islamist groups in the region.

In recent days residents of the Khyber Agency, located in Pakistan’s northwest FATA tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, are crediting Ansar ul-Islam with fiercely resisting the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Since January 25, more than 80 civilians and fighters have died in skirmishes between the two groups in the remote Tirah region of Khyber.

Ansar ul-Islam, like the TTP, is officially banned by the Pakistani government and has been accused of reprisals and killings. Critics claim it aims to control the Afridi tribe, the largest tribe in Khyber Agency, in order to take over the lucrative trade that passes through the district.

‘They Are Not Terrorists’

Latif Afridi, a secular politician from the region, says that Ansar ul-Islam is fighting against a coalition of the TTP, Al-Qaeda, and Lashkar-e-Islam — its hard-line nemesis in Khyber.

Afridi says Ansar ul-Islam is essentially acting as a defense force for the region.

Supporters of Ansar ul-Islam note that the group allows and protects schools in the regions it controls, while they are the targets of attacks by other Pakistani Taliban factions.

Supporters of Ansar ul-Islam note that the group allows and protects schools in the regions it controls, while they are the targets of attacks by other Pakistani Taliban factions.

​​​​”They are not terrorists. They have never been involved in terrorist activities such as suicide bombings,” Afridi says. “They are just fighting for protecting their region. They have always helped the government in its efforts to establish peace in the region.”

Ansar ul-Islam arrived on the scene when followers of an Afghan Sufi preacher, Pir Saifur Rehman, formed the militia in 2004 to counter the Lashkar-e-Islam (Army of Islam) formed by Mufti Munir Shakir, a hard-line Sunni cleric who opposes Sufism.

Rehman and Shakir followed two different sects of Sunni Islam. The former preached Brelvi Islam inspired by Sufism, while the latter advocated puritanical Deobandi Islam.

The two engaged in a propaganda war, branding each other “infidels” through their own illegal FM radio stations.

Pakistani authorities expelled both clerics from Khyber in 2006 and Rehman later died in Lahore, but their followers kept Ansar ul-Islam and Lashkar-e-Islam alive as rival militias.

The group allows and facilitates government officials to make identity papers to tribesmen in Khyber's Tirah Maidan region.

The group allows and facilitates government officials to make identity papers to tribesmen in Khyber’s Tirah Maidan region.

​​The two groups moved their fight from the lowland trading town of Bara into the highlands of Tirah, where clans and families among the Afridi Pashtun tribe supplied their fighters.

Ansar ul-Islam counted on local support and covert government aid, while Lashkar-e-Islam established an alliance with the TTP.

Thousands have died and tens of thousands of families have been displaced by the fighting between the two groups since 2006.

Afridi says that, over the years, Ansar ul-Islam has emerged as a more moderate faction focused on protecting its supporters.

‘Government Needs Such Groups’

Most significantly, it has moved away from preaching sectarian hatred, which wins it more support among the Afridis of Khyber.

​​”In a way, they are good people. Pakistan today needs such people,” Afridi says. “They do not engage in sectarian hatred and are tolerant. You can sit with them and they will even listen to your advice or criticism. The government needs such groups.”

According to Farhad Shinwari, a correspondent for RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal in Khyber Agency, Ansar ul-Islam helps the local authorities to deliver health care and education in regions it controls.

“They often meet officials and always ask for more development projects,” Shinwari says. “All the schools are open in the regions they control. None of the public schools has been blown up. A large number of students regularly attend these schools. They have also helped in administering successful polio-vaccination campaigns here.”

Afridi says that the current fighting erupted after Ansar ul-Islam resisted a TTP move to expand its control within Khyber Agency. Recently, the TTP began to move eastward into the district’s Maidan region, which is controlled by Ansar ul-Islam.

He says that the TTP forcefully evicted some 1,300 Pashtun families from the western part of Khyber Agency in the summer of 2012 to provide shelter for Al-Qaeda fighters targeted by relentless drone strikes in their North Waziristan base, some 300 kilometers south of Khyber.

Afridi says that a defeat of Ansar ul-Islam would have far-reaching consequences.

A tiny minority of Sikhs still live in the regions of Khyber Agency controlled by Ansar ul-Islam.

A tiny minority of Sikhs still live in the regions of Khyber Agency controlled by Ansar ul-Islam.

​​He says that if the TTP and Al-Qaeda were to establish control over Maidan in Tirah, peace in Khyber and the surrounding regions would be severely threatened. A stranglehold over the mountainous region would facilitate their attacks against targets in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province’s capital, Peshawar, which abuts Khyber to the east.

“It will make it very difficult for the displaced Afridi tribesmen to return to their homes and will also stir an even greater displacement crisis,” Afridi says.

In recent weeks, the TTP has intensified its violent campaign. It has staged numerous high-profile attacks in Peshawar, including the assassination of senior government minister Bashir Bilour in late December.

NATO’s war on terror in Afghanistan futile: Faizi

 NATO’s war on terror in Afghanistan futile: Faizi

Pajhwok

By Ahmad Quraishi

 KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday rejected NATOSecretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s remarks and said the alliance’s war on terror inside Afghanistan was meaningless.

A day earlier, Rasmussen hit back at Karzai for his statement that the US and the alliance were colluding with the Taliban to pave the way for foreign soldiers’ continued stay in the war-weary country.

Last week, Karzai had told a gathering of tribal elders and youth in southern Helmand province that the West was out to engineer an agreement between the Taliban insurgents and his political foes.

But Anders Fogh Rasmussen, spurning the presidential comments as ridiculous, said: “We fully respect the sovereignty of Afghanistan. But we would also expect acknowledgment from the Afghan side that we have actually invested a lot in blood and treasure in helping Afghanistan move forward.”

President Karzai’s chief spokesman Aimal Faizi scorned the Danish diplomat’s utterances, saying that NATO’s fight against terrorism in Afghanistan was an exercise in futility.

Afghans wanted NATO to explain the war that was apparently being waged against terrorism and why the scourge could not be eliminated despite the killing of so many innocent, Faizi added.

“Afghans ask the secretary general why the war continues in Afghan villages when it is crystal clear to NATO that terrorist hideouts are outside Afghanistan,” Faizi said in a statement.

The Systematic, Methodical, Deceitful Saudi Wahhabi Destruction of Islamic History

McMecca: The Strange Alliance of Clerics and Businessmen in Saudi Arabia

The Atlantic

Why are Wahhabi leaders allowing the destruction of historical sites in Islam’s holiest city?

mecca banner.jpg

Construction cranes are seen as Muslims circle the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Mecca on January 6, 2013. (Amr Dalsh/Reuters)

The Saudi government is demolishing some of the oldest sections of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, according to a report by The Independent this week , which includes photos of the wreckage. The mosque is one of Islam’s most important religious sites, to which all Muslims face while praying. The sections being destroyed date back to the Ottoman and Abbasid period and are the last remaining parts of the compound that are more than a few hundred years old. “One column which is believed to have been ripped down is supposed to mark the spot where Muslims believe Muhammad began his heavenly journey on a winged horse, which took him to Jerusalem and heaven in a single night,” The Independent reports.

Though the Saudi government argues that the demolition is part of a plan to expand the Grand Mosque complex to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims to the site, it seems strange that the theocratic government, controlled by extremist Wahhabi clerics, would so wantonly destroy Islamic holy sites. It is a paradox I encountered when I visited Mecca a few years ago reporting a story for The New Republic about the growing commercialization of Islam’s holiest city:

A report by the Saudi British Bank (SABB), one of the kingdom’s biggest lenders, estimates that $30 billion will be invested in construction and infrastructure in Mecca over the next four years from local and foreign companies. Up to 130 new skyscrapers are anticipated, including the $6 billion Abraj Al Bait Towers, a seven-tower project that, once completed in 2009, will be one of the largest buildings in the world, with a 60-floor, 2,000-room hotel; a 1,500-person convention center; two heliports; and a four-story mall that will house, among 600 other outlets, Starbucks, The Body Shop, U.K.-based clothing line Topshop (Kate Moss is a guest designer), and Tiffany & Co. En route to the hajj, pilgrims already have the opportunity to stop at cosmetic superstore MAC, perfumery VaVaVoom, and Claire’s Accessories. H&M and Cartier are on the way. “All the top brands are flocking here,” says John Sfakianakis, SABB’s chief economist. “The only thing missing is Filene’s Basement.”

It is not surprising that commercial interests are flocking to the city: Approximately 2.4 million pilgrims visited Mecca in 2008, and some estimate that the number could rise to 20 million within the next few years. But developers and retailers have found an unlikely ally in Wahhabi clerics, who consider the veneration of historical sites to be a form of idolatry, and are happy to see all them demolished.

“It is not permitted to glorify buildings and historical sites,” proclaimed Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Baz, then the kingdom’s highest religious authority, in a much-publicized fatwa in 1994. “Such action would lead to polytheism. … [S]o it is necessary to reject such acts and to warn others away from them.”

A pamphlet published last year by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, endorsed by Abdulaziz Al Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, and distributed at the Prophet’s Mosque, where Mohammed, Abu Bakr, and the Islamic Caliph Umar ibn Al Khattab are buried, reads, “The green dome shall be demolished and the three graves flattened in the Prophet’s Mosque,” according to Irfan Al Alawi, executive director of the London-based Islamic Heritage Research Foundation. This shocking sentiment was echoed in a speech by the late Muhammad ibn Al Uthaymeen, one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent Wahhabi clerics, who delivered sermons in Mecca’s Grand Mosque for over 35 years: “We hope one day we’ll be able to destroy the green dome of the Prophet Mohammed,” he said, in a recording provided by Al Alawi.

The unholy alliance means that a handful of archeologists and conservationists, as well as foreign NGOs, are the only voices trying to prevent the destruction of these sites. The recent demolitions at the Grand Mosque are just the latest victims of this intersection of commercial and religious interests:

Sami Angawi, the founder and former director of Mecca’s Hajj Research Center and the most vocal opponent of the destruction of Mecca’s historic sites … estimates that over 300 antiquity sites in Mecca and Medina have already been destroyed [by 2008], such as the house of the first caliph, Abu Bakr, which was leveled to make room for the Mecca Hilton Hotel. (According to Ivor McBurney, a spokesman for Hilton, “We saw the tremendous opportunities to tap into Saudi Arabia’s religious tourism segment.”)

Over protests by groups like the Islamic Supreme Council of America and the Muslim Canadian Congress, Saudi authorities have authorized the destruction of hundreds of antiquities, such as an important eighteenth-century Ottoman fortress in Mecca that was razed to make way for the Abraj Al Bait Towers– a move the Turkish foreign minister condemned as “cultural genocide.” An ancient house belonging to Mohammed was recently razed to make room for, among other developments, a public toilet facility. An ancient mosque belonging to Abu Bakr has now been replaced by an ATM machine. And the sites of Mohammed’s historic battles at Uhud and Badr have been, with a perhaps unconscious nod to Joni Mitchell, paved to put up a parking lot. The remaining historical religious sites in Mecca can be counted on one hand and will likely not make it much past the next hajj, Angawi says: “It is incredible how little respect is paid to the house of God.”

According to the Washington-based Gulf Institute, almost 95 percent of Mecca’s millennium-old buildings have been demolished in the past two decades alone. When I questioned Habib Zain Al Abideen, the Saudi deputy minister of municipal and rural affairs, head of all the kingdom’s hajj-related construction projects, about the destruction of historical sites in Mecca, he seemed unconcerned about their religious significance. More important to him was that the hajj was “a good opportunity to visit Mecca and Medina, do some shopping, make a vacation out of it.”

Russian Med Fleet First Stage of Naval Rapid Response Force To Be Operational By Year’s End

itar tass

SEVASTOPOL, March 19 (Itar-Tass) – The structure of the Command of a Russian rapid response naval force, which is being created for permanent operations in the Mediterranean Sea, will be formed finally in the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet before the end of this year.

The command system of the Russian rapid response naval force will be tested in action during the inter-fleet naval exercises for the first time in 2014, a source in the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.

“The forming of the Command of a Russian rapid response naval force was launched. The working group was formed from the officers of the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet and the 30th brigade of surface ships. The archive documents of the 5th Soviet Mediterranean rapid response naval squadron, its staff structure are being examined, the experience of operations of the warships of the Black Sea Fleet at inter-fleet naval exercises was being analyzed last January. The council of veterans of the 5th squadron also joined this work,” the source said.

“Before the end of the year a new structure will be finally formed and in the summer of 2014 it will be tested in action for the first time at inter-fleet naval exercises in the Mediterranean Sea,” he noted.

“A full-fledged Russian rapid response naval force should be completely formed by 2015. By this year we hope to practice completely the command of the naval force and the most important thing is to put new warships into service of this naval force,” a source in the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet said. He noted that, meanwhile, those naval forces, which were participating in the last January inter-fleet naval exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, namely the missile cruiser Moskva, the coast guard ship Smetlivy, large landing ships and auxiliary ships, will be included in the rapid response naval force from the Black Sea Fleet,” the source said.

“About 5-6 warships should be deployed on the permanent basis in the Mediterranean Sea, the command of the naval force should be made through the Command of the Black Sea Fleet,” Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Admiral Viktor Chirkov said on March 17.

Admiral Chirkov stated earlier in the situation centre of the Russian Defence Ministry that the Russian Navy already began to fulfil the tasks to form a rapid response naval force for the operations on the permanent basis in the Mediterranean Sea. The chief commander noted then that the High Command of the Russian Navy is analysing the problems to form this naval force. “For the command of the rapid response naval force the staff, which will be assigned in the Mediterranean Sea, was prepared,” the admiral said.

The 5th rapid response squadron of the Soviet Union Navy performed combat tasks in the Mediterranean war theatre during the Cold War. The US Navy’s Sixth Fleet was the main rival of the Soviet naval squadron. This Soviet naval squadron was disbanded on December 31, 1992, a year after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

 

© ITAR-TASS

Cyprus Declares “Bank Holidays” Until Thursday

Banks will remain closed but ATMs stocked up

Cyprus mail

By George Christou
 
Banks are due to stay closed until Thursday

BANKS will remain closed today and tomorrow, the Central Bank announcing yesterday that “March 19 and March 20 have been declared bank holidays.”

“We could not have opened, with the bill for the deposits levy still pending,” said a senior bank executive who added that nobody knew what the levy would eventually be. The angry reaction, caused by the bail-in of small depositors had forced the government to re-consider how the haircut would be applied.

On Sunday night the Central Bank had informed commercial banks that the levy percentages had changed. For deposits up to €100,000 the levy would be 3 per cent, between €100,000 and €500,000 10 per cent and above €500,000 12.5 per cent.

At yesterday morning’s House Finance Committee meeting, the Governor of the Central Bank Panicos Demetriades suggested that there should be no levy on deposits of up to €100,000, but he could not say what percentages would have to be cut from bigger deposits to make up the €5.8 billion that had to be raised from the hair-cut.

In spite of the banks being closed, ATMs will be stocked up with cash for people wanting to make withdrawals. Banks had to re-supply the machines with euro-notes several times over the long weekend, especially after the announcement of the bail-in early on Saturday morning.

“ATMs usually run out of money on Monday evening when it is a long weekend, but last Saturday they ran out by 8.30 in the morning,” said the bank executive. There were instructions from the Central Bank to keep re-supplying the ATMs, but by Monday most branches had no more money and had to ask for extra cash from the Central Bank.

In an announcement issued yesterday, the Association of Cyprus Banks said that “in cooperation with the Central Bank of Cyprus, banks are making every effort to ensure that the increased needs of cash among the public will be continuously satisfied through the ATMs.”

Meanwhile, the banks have been trying to agree a uniform policy for dealing with customers once the banks finally open to the public. Although there has been no agreement, the maximum amount of same-day cash withdrawal is expected to be €10,000. Sums up to €200,000 would be available the next day.

No uniform policy has been agreed on how to deal with customers wanting to cash fixed-term deposits. Breaking a fixed-term deposit is at the discretion of the bank which usually imposes a hefty fine when it is cashed, but it is unlikely banks would be very obliging when such a request is made.

The biggest concern of the banks, once they open their doors to the public, is security. There are fears that they may have to deal with angry crowds entering branches and will have security staff stationed outside the big branches to control the number of people allowed in at any time. Security guards would also be patrolling branches.

American Frankenstein: The Haqqani Revival

American Frankenstein: The Haqqani Revival

FOREIGN POLICY JOURNAL

by Matthew Snow

Mujahedeen commander Jalaluddin Haqqani in his base camp near the Pakistani border. (Photo: Getty)

Mujahedeen commander Jalaluddin Haqqani in his base camp near the Pakistani border. (Photo: Getty)

by Matthew Snow

Since the beginning of the Global War on Terrorism, barstool and armchair political savants have often remarked that America created the issue of Al Qaeda and the Taliban by aiding the mujahideen during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.  While this idea is broadly true, the fine nuances are often left to vague shoulder shrugs and abrupt changes of topic when pressed for details beyond bumper stickers and headlines.

America’s involvement in Afghanistan has been pocked by tremendous missteps – but most commonly as diplomats, politicians, and soldiers blindly meander through the cultural minefield, creating a political landscape as scarred as the bombed and blackened mountains of the Hindu Kush.  However, no travesty has been more avoidable or iconic than America’s involvement and mishandling of Jalaluddin Haqqani.  With American money, training, and armament, Haqqani rose from the dust of obscurity like Frankenstein’s monster upon the alchemy of the late-Romantic era; however, it was America’s lack of humanity, cultural insensitivity, and diplomatic arrogance that soured the monster into the uncontrollable beast bent on the destruction of its creator.

Jalaluddin Haqqani cut his teeth on jihad in the infamous Muslim Youth Organization of Kabul University – a late 1960s jihad-focused group of students modeled after their faculty’s involvement in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.[1] As the group went underground in the late 1970s, they adopted the name Hesb-I Islami, and declared holy war on the government of Afghanistan.   Haqqani at once found himself in the upper echelon of the organization’s war council until the Hesb-I Islami began to disintegrate due to personality conflicts between Gulbuddin Hekmatyr and his political opposites, Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani and protégé Ahmed Shah Massoud.  The group was eventually pieced back together under the new banner of Harakat-i-Inqilab, but Haqqani was no longer interested.  Rather, as Harakat rose to the forefront of the jihad, Haqqani took note of the revered Islamic journalist, Yunis Khales, who re-established Hesb-I Islami to capitalize on the fatwa for jihad and the name he thought “too valuable to abandon.”[2] Yunis immediately drew hard-hitting jihadists such as Jalaluddin Haqqani, Dost Mohammed, and later the teenage urban guerilla, Abdul Haq, and a young, wealthy Saudi financier, Osama bin Laden, to the fledgling party of Hesb-I Islami Khales.

With Khales, Haqqani was empowered and quickly earned a reputation as a fierce warrior in the mountainous border region of Loya Paktia.  His prowess garnered direct support from Pakistani ISI and American CIA who trained and equipped Haqqani’s soldiers with guns and stinger missile systems.  His end of the transaction came in the form of a vague measure of accountability to be evidenced in the toll of Russian casualties.[3] Peter Tomsen, the Department of State’s Special Envoy and Ambassador on Afghanistan from 1989 to 1992, had this to say in a recollection to PBS’s Frontline:

[Haqqani] would come to Islamabad for meetings, but he would always be out for more—something to attract more ordnance, more money for himself… And ISI would sit in their offices and tell him, “Well, we’re going to provide you this much for this many men, and we want you to take this particular offensive.”[4]

When asked if it were the CIA who built a lot of Haqqani’s capacity, Tomsen responded with a simple, “Yes.”[5]  It would be easy to say that the intelligence community could not have predicted Haqqani’s future, but it was clear that he was no friend of the West as the 1980s and Russian occupation drew to a close.  Haqqani sidled closer to radical Arab wahabbists—a fanatical faction of Islam that believes only in a strict Sunni interpretation of the religion from the time of its creation.  He spent more time in Mecca fundraising for independent revenue sources, spoke Arabic, looked upon the west with disdain, and embraced Deobandism, a similar form of Islam towahabbi.  When war reporter Robert D. Kaplan went to Haqqani’s Pakistan-based compound late in the war, he was shocked by cold, angry eyes of Haqqani and his Arab compatriots, and their open lack of hospitality, which is counter to the typical hallmark of Pashtun tribal etiquette.  The radical anger was stark against the backdrop of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, where mujahideen commanders depended on journalists to publicize their causes.  Kaplan took the hint and promptly left.[6]  This was hardly the behavior that once earned Jalaluddin the honorific of “goodness personified” by Texas congressman Charlie Wilson.[7]  The signs were beginning to show a darker side of Jalaluddin Haqqani – as dark and untamed as his long, black beard that seemed to highlight the rage in his eyes.  Perhaps it was simply the effects of a man immersed in constant war for over two decades, or possibly the psychological toll of a man turned into a malign function in the hands of foreign nations.

None of that seemed to matter to America’s narrow focus of toppling Communism. They simply allotted Haqqani more war materials based upon the observation of CIA handlers that, “[Haqqani] could kill Russians like you wouldn’t believe.”  Those materials and money were then matched by Saudi intelligence in their One-For-One policy.[8]  Everyone wanted a piece of him – to use him.  The relation between source and handler should be closer to courtship than clinical detachment, and it should resemble more a friendship than slave and sociopath.  Perhaps Robert Baer, recipient of the CIA’s Career Intelligence Medal, put it most eloquently regarding recruiting agents in that corner of the world when he said, “You don’t recruit an individual; you recruit families, clans, and tribes.”[9]  A handler should be immersed in his source, and vested in his family.  Though three different nations handled Jalaluddin Haqqani, each seemed only interested in weaponizing him to achieve their national interests.  Without that personal investment, America would never be particularly clear of his crosshairs – especially when Washington lost interest in Afghanistan and the flow of money abruptly stopped with a nation left in shambles.

After the Russians fled and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan fell, Haqqani maintained his area along the eastern border of Afghanistan where he established a prominent madrassa in north Waziristan, Pakistan known asHaqqania which supplied much of the fodder for the Taliban ranks and a great deal of the momentum for the early movement.[10]  In 1995, arguably at the behest of Pakistani ISI, Haqqani himself joined the Taliban and took command of the front line outside Kabul.  Jeffery A. Dressler of the Institute for the Study of War, contends this was likely a play by Pakistani ISI to steer the Taliban to meet Pakistan’s objectives as the agency abandoned their long-time proxy, Gulbuddin Hekmatyr.[11]  However, much of that evidence is shrouded in secrecy and classifications.  One thing is certain: the ISI had finally backed the winning horse.  Whereas Hekmatyr battled Ahmed Shah Massoud of the Northern Alliance for control of Kabul in a fierce battle that claimed thousands of civilian lives over the span of a couple years, Haqqani’s forces decimated the Shomali Plains area outside of Kabul, which enabled the Taliban to seize Kabul and maintain the majority of the country.[12]  Pakistan had finally gained the strategic depth they desired for defense against the paranoia of an invading Indian army, and Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban, ousted the last of the remaining interim government of the mujahideen.  Mullah Omar promptly rewarded Haqqani with the position of Minister of the Border and Tribal Affairs, though this proved to be an arbitrary move to satiate the frustrations of Haqqani’s men with the leadership from Khandahar.  Despite the position, Haqqani, a Ghilzai Pashtun of the Zadran subtribe, was left out of the largely Durrani Pashtun decision making of the Khandahar inner-circle.  Haqqani felt an Islamic Republic would better suit Afghanistan, and was not fond of the arrogance of the Khandahari leadership.  Though he occasionally let these sentiments slip in private to close friends such as Maulavi Saidullah, he stayed loyal to the Taliban and its leader.[13]  This perception of alienation could have proven to be excellent motivation for co-opting Haqqani and returning him to the fold of an experienced handler capable of re-establishing an effective rapport.  Unfortunately, this altruistic capital would be squandered by the bravado of blind patriots and Washington jingoes.

In early December of 2001, Coalition Forces and Northern Alliance Afghan soldiers stormed Haqqani’s homeland in search of Osama bin Laden at the site of the mountain fortress known as The Lion’s Den.  Though 250 Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters were reportedly killed, Osama bin Laden managed to escape.[14]  Jalaluddin Haqqani hid his old friend in a house outside Khost before smuggling him into Pakistan with his family, though Haqqani himself stayed behind to broker a deal with a nation that once regarded him so highly.[15]

Testing the tinsel strength of their rekindled relationship with an angry America, Pakistani ISI urged the CIA to accommodate Haqqani and perhaps give him a token position in the newly formed government.[16]  Had America listened to Pakistan, not only could their relationship perhaps fostered into a true alliance, but the next decade of military involvement could have been drastically different.  Jalaluddin could have stabilized the Afghan border region early in the conflict, and Pakistan could have become a greater partner in the War on Terrorism clearing and reinforcing the border from their side of the country.  Unfortunately, the Department of Defense and Washington in general were deafened by the dull thunder of war drums and anger of the American populace.  The deal offered to Jalaluddin Haqqani was unconditional surrender, betrayal of Osama bin Laden, an all expense paid trip to Guantanamo Bay, and interrogation.  After an indefinite amount of time, he would be allowed to return to his home.[17]  Honor is perhaps the single-most important virtue of a classic Pashtun tribesman.  He will kill his daughter and maim his mother to retain it, and after suffering an insulting offer like this he is bound by his tribal code to seek and achieve vengeance or place his descendents forever after in a state of honor bankruptcy, or daus, until the blood feud is satisfied. So began Jalaluddin Haqqani’s war against America.

Jalaluddin Haqqani’s son, Sarajuddin, was born to Haqqani’s Arab wife, which strengthened his ties with Riyadh and insured a legitimacy among his future descendents.  Despite his sacred blood, as a boy Sarajuddin reportedly cared more about his appearance than his father’s work.  An ISI officer and friend of the family claims, “He didn’t take to war,” and he often referred to the Taliban as “heavy-handed” and “dogmatic.”[18] However, shortly after his father was insulted, Sarajuddin experienced a religious awakening and grasped the reigns of the Haqqani Network as they began to slacken in Jalaluddin’s aging grip.  From 2002 to 2006, Sarajuddin reconstituted the network and rekindled the Taliban’s might through arduous fundraising and solicitation of foreign manpower. Though the network enjoys some autonomy, they repeatedly swear allegiance to Mullah Omar and his dream of an Islamic Emirate.  Even as recently as October 2011, Sarajuddin said this to BBC regarding his relationship with the Taliban:

Ameerul Momeenin [Leader of the Faithful] Mullah Omar is our leader and we follow him, we have responsibility for certain areas within the Islamic Emirate’s administration and accordingly follow instructions. In every military operation, the Emirate gives us a plan, guide and financial support. We conduct it thoroughly. There is no question of a separate party or group.[19]

Responsible for everything from the bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul, to shooting down an American helicopter carrying Navy SEALs, to allegedly assassinating Burhanuddin Rabanni of the High Peace Council, Sarajuddin has shifted the nature of jihad in Afghanistan and the jihadists that have waged the struggle since the Haqqani Network came fully online in 2008.  Perhaps one of the most evident cases occurred in late August of 2010 when Forward Operating Base Salerno received mortar rounds and recoilless rifle fire as machine guns opened up on one the largest outposts in Khost.  Thirteen Haqqani fighters wearing suicide vests and night vision goggles maneuvered to the perimeter fence in the pre-dawn hours and breached near the airfield.  Two years later, in June of 2012, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device pulled near the perimeter wall and detonated, leveling a good portion of Salerno’s defenses as fourteen Haqqani operatives armed with machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, and suicide vests poured in through the breach.[20]  Sarajuddin brought strategic focus to once tactical level ingenuity creating spectacular attacks that often garner international attention.  The dynamic effectiveness of the Haqqani Network has since forced American policy beyond the placement of his group on the United Nations’ international terrorist blacklist, but redefining what victory in Afghanistan entails.[21]  Perhaps the most telling reason why can be glimpsed in Sarajuddin’s warning to Pakistan:

Our advice for the people and government of Pakistan is that they should carefully note the American double standard and irreconcilable policy. They should give precedence to their national and Islamic interests. They should take [it as a given] that the Americans will never be satisfied until they loot them completely.[22]

Sarajuddin’s observation of irreconcilable policy and vampiric drain until there is nothing left is reminiscent of the manner in which his father was used by the American government, and echoes of the severance package offered in the aftermath of the assault on the Lion’s Den.

Though casualties rise, the war winds down over a decade since the first bomb fell.  The border remains porous, and the Pakistani government has never given an honest attempt at making a single arrest in northern Waziristan Province, the current stronghold and location of Haqqania, or stabilizing its border with Afghanistan.  It has been over a decade since America expressed disinterest in a continued relationship with Jalaluddin Haqqani, though he persists in reminding them what they originally saw in him, what they created of him, and the day they turned their back on him.  These stark reminders should serve as a cautionary for caustic policy making based upon bravado and anger exacerbated by cultural ignorance and diplomatic irreverence.  Haqqani is a reminder of the humanity that must exist in human intelligence.  And as strategic locations explode and erupt in the constant din of machine gun fire with a seemingly endless stream of martyrs, Jalaluddin Haqqani brazenly stands as a reminder that defiance has cold, dark eyes and wears a long, black beard.

References

[1] David B. Edwards, Before Taliban: Geneologies of an Afghan Jihad (Los Angeles: University of California Press,2002), Kindle edition, chap 7.

[2] Ibid,

[3] Jeffery A. Dressler, “Haqqani Network: From Afghanistan to Pakistan,” Afghanistan Report 6 (2010): 8.

[4] Peter Tomsen, Return of the Taliban Interview, Frontline, PBS, July 20, 2006.

[5] Ibid

[6] Robert D. Kaplan, Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan (New York: Random House, 2001), Kindle edition, Introduction.

[7] Dressler, 8.

[8] Ibid, 9.

[9] Robert Baer, See No Evil: The True Story of a CIA Ground Soldier in the War on Terrorism (New York: Crown, 2002), Kindle edition, chap. 6.

[10] Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (New York: Penguin Books, 2005), Kindle edition, chap 16.

[11] Dressler, 9.

[12] Peter Tomsen, Return of the Taliban Interview.

[13] Dressler, 9.

[14] Guy Walter, “How the World’s Most Wanted Man Made Fools of the Elite Troops Who’d Trapped Him in His Mountain Lair,” The Mail Online, April 30, 2011,  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1382011/.

[15] Joby Warrick, Triple Agent: The Al Qaeda Mole Who Infiltrated the CIA (New York: Random House, 2011). Kindle edition, chap. 9.

[16] Ibid, chap. 9

[17] Ibid, chap 9

[18] Dressler, 9.

[19] Sarajuddin Haqqani, Interview by BBC, News South Asia, BBC, October 3, 2011.

[20] Bill Roggio, “US Troops Repel Suicide Assault on Base in Eastern Afghanistan,” The Long Wars Journal. June 1, 2012, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2012/06/us_troops_repel_suic.php

[21] Al Jazeera, “UN Adds Haqqani Network to Terrorist Blacklist,” Al Jazeera. November 6, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia/2012/11/20121166251166331.html

[22] Haqqani, Interview by BBC.

Slander Trial Begins Of Tajik Clerics

 RADIO FREE EUROPE
Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda accuses the three clerics of blaming him for igniting Tajikistan’s deadly civil war in 1990s.
Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda accuses the three clerics of blaming him for igniting Tajikistan’s deadly civil war in 1990s.
By RFE/RL’s Tajik Service

 

KHUJAND, Tajikistan — The slander trial of three Tajik Muslim clerics has started in the northern city of Khujand.

Prominent religious and political figure Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda accuses the three clerics of blaming him for igniting Tajikistan’s deadly civil war in 1990s.

The remarks were allegedly made on a televised talk show a year ago.

The moderator of the show is also standing trial.

The clerics told the court on March 18 that they did not recall what they said during the television program.

The next hearing is expected in several days after they watch a video of the program.

Turajonzoda served as “qaziqalon,” the highest Muslim authority in Tajikistan, before the civil war broke in 1992.

He was appointed deputy prime minister in the power-sharing government agreed after the war in 1997.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Warns of CIA and Pentagon Assassination Plot

Plan to kill U.S. comes Capriles

semana

WORLD So said Nicolas Maduro. He said that the Pentagon and the CIA are the organizers.

Plan to kill U.S. comes Capriles.  Nicolas Maduro had talked about it but told the Venezuelan right ..

Author: EFE
Nicolas Maduro had talked about it but told the Venezuelan right ..
The acting president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, warned U.S. President Barack Obama, that “officials from the Pentagon and the CIA”, alongside exembajadores Roger Noriega and Otto Reich, are behind plans to assassinate the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.

 

“I am calling on President Barack Obama from here, the Government of the United States responsibly (…) Roger Noriega, Otto Reich, senior Pentagon and CIA are behind a plot to assassinate presidential candidate Venezuelan right to create chaos in Venezuela, “he said. In an interview with the former vice president Jose Vicente Rangel and journalist transmitted by the private channel Televen, Maduro said he has “very good source of information” that these plans are designed to “throw blame the Bolivarian government and create chaos in Venezuela. ” Everything for the elections to be held on April 14 to elect a successor to President Hugo Chavez, who died on day 5 by a cancer that affected him for nearly two years. On Wednesday, President and denounced plans charge “of the far right” group U.S. linked to Noriega, former ambassador to U.S.to the OAS, and Reich, former ambassador to U.S. in Venezuela, Capriles to attack. “We will ensure, and we have ordered and are doing well, all the protection for all presidential candidates, particularly at this”, Maduro reiterated stating that “there are sectors of the right Venezuelan involved in these plans. ” Moreover, Maduro said this week his government will decorate the two “worthy” U.S. diplomats Venezuelans Venezuela expelled after the last 5th declared persona non grata two members of the U.S. military attache in the country. “They are representing the dignified voice of Venezuela, never went to the U.S. to conspire, never sought any Pentagon to tell military had to overthrow President Obama, “he said. U.S. Government decided last Monday deport Montañéz Orlando Olivares, second secretary of the Embassy of Venezuela in Washington, and Victor Mata Camacaro, consular official in New York, in response to the Venezuelan decision to expel two U.S. diplomats. On 5 March, hours before announcing the death of President Chavez, the Venezuelan government officials accused David DelMonaco and David Kostale of “destabilizing projects proposing” a Venezuelan military, which the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon have denied.

Zionist Slime Continues To Slither, Pressuring for Obama “Green Light” To Bomb Syria

[Stinking Fascist Cry-Babies!]

Israel to ask Obama to use air strikes in case of Syrian missile transfer

 

einstein letter warning of zionist fascism in israel…,

 SUBREALISM

Letters to the Editor
New York Times
December 4, 1948
 
TO THE EDITORS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES:
 
Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.
 
The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party, to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughoutthe world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin’s political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.
 
 
Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions, public manifestations in Begin’s behalf, and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement. The public avowals of Begin’s party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future.
 
Attack on Arab Village
 
A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish lands, had taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands who wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (THE NEW YORK TIMES), terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants ? 240men, women, and children – and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community was horrified at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. But the terrorists, far from being ashamed of their act, were proud of this massacre, publicized it widely, and invited all the foreign correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses and the general havoc at Deir Yassin. The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character and actions of the Freedom Party.
 
Within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their stead they have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model. During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and wide-spread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute.
 
The people of the Freedom Party have had no part in the constructive achievements in Palestine. They have reclaimed no land, built no settlements, and only detracted from the Jewish defense activity. Their much-publicized immigration endeavors were minute, and devoted mainly to bringing in Fascist compatriots.
 
Discrepancies Seen
 
The discrepancies between the bold claims now being made by Begin and his party, and their record of past performance in Palestine bear the imprint of no ordinary political party. This is the unmistakable stamp of a Fascist party for whom terrorism (against Jews, Arabs, and British alike), and misrepresentation are means, and a “Leader State” is the goal.
 
In the light of the foregoing considerations, it is imperative that the truth about Mr. Begin and his movement be made known in this country. It is all the more tragic that the top leadership of American Zionism has refused to campaign against Begin’s efforts, or even to expose to its own constituents the dangers to Israel from support to Begin.
 
The undersigned therefore take this means of publicly presenting a few salient facts concerning Begin and his party; and of urging all concerned not to support this latest manifestation of fascism.
 
ISIDORE ABRAMOWITZ
HANNAH ARENDT
ABRAHAM BRICK
RABBI JESSURUN CARDOZO
ALBERT EINSTEIN
HERMAN EISEN, M.D.
HAYIM FINEMAN
M. GALLEN, M.D.
H.H. HARRIS
ZELIG S. HARRIS
SIDNEY HOOK
FRED KARUSH
BRURIA KAUFMAN
IRMA L. LINDHEIM
NACHMAN MAISEL
SEYMOUR MELMAN
MYER D. MENDELSON
M.D., HARRY M. OSLINSKY
SAMUEL PITLICK
FRITZ ROHRLICH
LOUIS P. ROCKER
RUTH SAGIS
ITZHAK SANKOWSKY
I.J. SHOENBERG
SAMUEL SHUMAN
M. SINGER
IRMA WOLFE
STEFAN WOLF.
 
New York, Dec. 2, 1948

“Islamist” Preacher Faces Blasphemy Charges for Claiming That Western/Christian Women Want To Be Raped

[SEE: WARNING–Explicit Details of Degrading Sexual Attack on Lara Logan in Egypt]

Egypt: Islamist Preacher Faces ‘Contempt of Religion’ Charges

all africa

Aswat Masriya (Cairo)

Islamist preacher Ahmed Abdullah, known as “Abu Islam”, was referred on Sunday to trial in a blasphemy case.

Prosecution has charged Abu Islam with contempt of religion and spreading news that are likely to disrupt public security.

Coptic lawyer Naguib Gabriel has come forward to the general prosecutor with a legal complaint against Abu Islam, accusing him of insulting the Christian faith and Egypt’s women but specifically those who are Christian.

Abu-Islam, owner of the Umma and Mariya satellite television channels, had said that 90 percent of female protesters who head to Tahrir Square are Christian, referring to them as “crusaders”.

A recorded footage of the fundamentalist preacher saying, “these females go to demonstrations half-naked with the purpose of getting raped,” had circulated the internet.

The same cleric had once torn a copy of the bible in front of the American mission in Cairo during September protests against an anti-Islam film that sparked violence in Islamic countries.

Tuesday Morning Bank Run Predicted, After Weekend EU “Haircut” (Skimming) of Cyprus Bank Accounts

Our View: The ‘rescue package’ designed to destroy the economy

Cyprus mail

EVEN though the haircut of bank deposits had been on the agenda of the EU for more than a month now, featuring in Commission memos and being openly discussed by European politicians, most of whom, refused to rule it out, few people thought the Eurogroup would go ahead with it. It was an idle threat, to force Cyprus privatise SGOs and increase the corporate tax, was the prevailing view.

And after all, President Anastasiades had emphatically declared in his inauguration speech that “absolutely no reference to a haircut on public debt or deposits will be tolerated,” adding that “such an issue isn’t even up for discussion.” Finance Minister Michalis Sarris made similarly reassuring statements, arguing that it would be lunacy for the EU to impose such a measure because it would threaten the euro system.

Germany and the leaders of the Eurogroup opted for this lunacy, calculating that Cyprus is too small and inconsequential for the haircut on its bank deposits to cause contagion in the eurozone. Of course, the markets could view the decision differently, perhaps not when they open on Monday, but a few weeks later as it becomes apparent that not even deposits in European banks are safe from raids by the Eurogroup.

It is obvious from the statements made that Anastasiades was blackmailed into accepting this euphemistically called ‘solidarity levy’. If he did not accept it, the European Central Bank would not provide Emergency Liquidity Assistance to the Cypriot banks, after the March 21 deadline (it had been extended by two months in January) and the banks would have collapsed on the same day, with people losing much bigger parts of their deposits than the seven to 10 per cent that would be taken now.

Was there an alternative for Anastasiades? It is difficult to say, given the pressure for a political agreement by last Friday. All indications are that our EU partners had taken their decision before then and this was why they scheduled the Eurogroup meeting that would discuss the bailout on a Friday night. The Cypriot banks would be closed for three days during which all the steps for bailing in deposits could be taken, and the banks could re-open normally on Tuesday.

If only things were so simple. It is highly unlikely it will be business as usual at the banks on Tuesday as thousands of people will likely turn up to withdraw their money. Big depositors would give instructions for the transfer of money abroad and never again place it in a Cypriot bank. What would be the capital needs of the banks faced with a mass exodus of deposits, brought on by the Eurogroup decision? Would the EU order another ‘solidarity levy’ in such a case or would it declare Cyprus bankrupt, having dealt a fatal blow to its financial services sector that is by far the biggest contributor to GDP, and kick it out of the eurozone?

Yesterday’s decision still needs to be approved by the House of Representatives, which will meet today or tomorrow to approve the haircut bill. Judging by the statements made by the political parties yesterday the approval of the relevant bills is far from certain. Anastasiades was to meet the party leaders last night in an effort to persuade them to support the bills, but there are already many dissenting voices, not to mention the public outcry, which is bound to affect the stand of the parties.

One deputy yesterday wondered whether it would be better to allow the two banks that required liquidity assistance from the ECB to go under instead of accepting the haircut. But the problem would not be confined to these two banks as there is inter-dependence among the banks and a bank run on two would spread to all. This will be Anastasiades’ main argument in explaining why he agreed to the bail in of deposits. The alternative would have been the collapse of the banks, state bankruptcy and exit from the euro.

Under the circumstances the president opted for the lesser of two evils, even though we doubt there would be many people who would give him credit for that. In effect, the EU offered a ‘rescue package’ that is designed to destroy rather than rescue what is left of the Cyprus economy.

Putin Calls Obama’s Bluff On Concessions for Not Deploying Faulty “European Phased Adaptive Approach”

[SEE:  GAO Sees Flaws in Missile Defense Plan]

Russia says “no concession” in US missile move

News Asia

A Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) interceptor missile being launched from Omelek Island. (AFP/File/DoD/Missile Defense Agency/Andrew Hall)

MOSCOW: Russia said on Monday it saw “no concession” in the US decision to abandon the final phase of its missile shield for Europe while deploying new interceptors against a possible attack from North Korea.

“This is not a concession to Russia and we do not see it as such,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Kommersant business daily, “Our objections remain.”

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday that 14 more interceptors would be stationed in Alaska — increasing by almost half the 30 already deployed along the western coastline. The aim is to have them in place by 2017.

North Korea has threatened to unleash a second Korean War — backed by nuclear weapons — in response to UN sanctions imposed after its third atomic test in February and joint South Korea-US military manoeuvres.

The US decision means it will not go through with the fourth phase of its missile defence deployments in Europe under which interceptors trained on Iran were due to have been placed in Poland.

Hagel said the decision was part of an overall restructuring of how Washington viewed missile defence and international threats.

Russia has long argued that the European missile shield was aimed against its own nuclear deterrent and has held up negotiations on other disarmament agreements as a result.

Ryabkov said that Russia believed that extra US interceptors in Alaska “significantly expand US capabilities in the area of missile defence.”

“We are not experiencing any euphoria about this,” he added.

Kommersant said that Ryabkov was due to meet Tuesday in Geneva with US Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller to discuss the issue further.

Arming the Jihadi Terrorists Is Not the Way Forward In Syria

The Point.fr

Former head of the DGSE in Damascus, then senior intelligence, Alain Chouet challenges the French decision to supply weapons to the Syrian opposition.

Fighters of the Free Syrian Army.
Fighters of the Free Syrian Army. © Daniel Leal Olivas-/ Maxppp
Interview by 

French President François Hollande wished Friday that Europeans are ” in the coming weeks “a decision on the lifting of the embargo on providing arms to opposition forces in Syria. “Weapons are supplied by countries, including the Russian Federation , to Bashar al-Assad and his regime. We must draw all the conclusions and Europe must make its decision in the coming weeks, “said Francois Hollande. He said that “all the consequences of lifting the embargo” would be considered by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs in a long-planned meeting on 22 and 23 March in Dublin.

Approach judged harshly by Alain Chouet, former head of the DGSE in Damascus, then senior intelligence. It is one of the best connoisseurs of the Arab-Muslim world. Meeting.

The Point.fr: Is it appropriate that France delivers weapons to the Syrian opposition?

Alain Chouet: I’m confused by this. It would be completely outside international law, in an unprecedented situation. To make a comparison, it is as if France, in 1992, had unilaterally decided to arm the GIA (Armed Islamic Group) and the FIS (Islamic salvation Front) in Algeria, under the pretext that they had won the elections and that the military had interrupted the electoral process. In the case of Syria, we armerions unrepresentative groups and recognized by anyone, if not by us! UN has not recognized the opposition, and indeed, what opposition we talking about? It is totally diverse and divided, the military did not recognize the authority policies and within the military component, the jihadi militias took over the other.

France wants what weapons she deliver?

I do not know. I hear weapons “defensive”, which do no difference for me with “offensive” weapons. Talk about weapons “non-lethal”, it plays on words. And I do not know who is going to give … Some French politicians argue that our special services know exactly whom to give. I know Syria for 40 years, I was part of the special services for 30 years and I say that such certainty is totally presumptuous.What I see is that on the ground, it is called ASL (Free Syrian Army) is composed of officers and troops who have defected to Turkey and are for Most documented in military camps when they were not given wages of Islamism. One of the founders of the ASL, Colonel Riad al-Assaad, is under virtual house arrest with travel ban on Syrian territory. All this to make room for the Salafist groups and jihadists. I rest the question: what weapons do we give and to whom?

If London and Paris want to deliver weapons is to scan Bashar al-Assad. Why move now, after two years of near stagnation?

We have no mandate from the UN or anyone else or legal legitimacy to overthrow President Assad whatever grievances. This is not the French or the English to do it, but the Syrians. For two years, France has provided logistical support Syrian opposition, technical trainings organized by special services, also British or American. This time, delivering weapons officially, we pass to another stage!

It is still not today that secret services are supporting armed opposition groups in defiance of international law!

Course, and these services are even made for that … We can not send soldiers with flags, trumpets and feathers when it is mandated under international law. But when a foreign minister proclaims that he will provide military assistance to foreigners wishing to overthrow their government, even if international bodies oppose, we are entering a new and dangerous form of the illegal international.

You know very well in Syria, where you have long been in place and you speak the language.What is your overall assessment of the situation?

For two years, the situation has seriously deteriorated. We are in a country devastated, ruined, plagued by ethnic and sectarian clashes, where nothing will ever be the same. We entered a logic of civil war similar to that bloodied Lebanon for 15 years. But I tell you clearly: this is not arming Salafi we will arrive at a solution. As a hypocrite, France has called for a negotiated solution immediately disqualifying a party ordered to not come to the negotiating table, in this case the power in place. What is he then to negotiate? Since the beginning of this case, we are in limbo military, legal, political or ideological. I find it very difficult to find things. It is absolute ambiguity in supporting those in Syria against which we fight abroad.

Can you be more specific? 

I refer to Mali. Even if comparison is not right and if the Islamists who appear in Mali are not the same people who fight in Syria, they have the same goals, the same inspiration, the same ideologues and the same line. I find it quite curious. And as a former manager of a large government service, I am quite disturbed by the strange and antagonistic selection of our diplomats and our policies.

Public Defecation In India Helping To Create A Stunted Generation

Prashanth Vishwanathan for The New York Times

A woman in Mumbai, India, washing the feet of her child outside an open toilet on stilts where the waste goes directly into an open water source.

The long and short of open defecation

The Hindu

DEAN SPEARS

There is statistical data to show that the height of Indian children is correlated to their and their neighbourhood’s access to toilets

You can learn a lot from measuring children’s height. How tall a child has grown by the time she is a few years old is one of the most important indicators of her well-being. This is not because height is important in itself, but because height reflects a child’s early-life health, absorbed nutrition and experience of disease.

Because health problems that prevent children from growing tall also prevent them from growing into healthy, productive, smart adults, height predicts adult mortality, economic outcomes and cognitive achievement. The first few years of life have critical life-long consequences. Physical or cognitive development that does not happen in these first years is unlikely to be made up later.

So it is entirely appropriate that news reports in India frequently mention child stunting or malnutrition. Indian children are among the shortest in the world. Such widespread stunting is both an emergency for human welfare and a puzzle.

Why are Indian children so short? Stunting is often considered an indicator of “malnutrition,” which sometimes suggests that the problem is that children don’t have enough food. Although it is surely a tragedy that so many people in India are hungry, and it is certainly the case that many families follow poor infant feeding practices, food appears to be unable to explain away the puzzle of Indian stunting.

‘ASIAN ENIGMA’

One difficult fact to explain is that children in India are shorter, on average, than children in Africa, even though people are poorer, on average, in Africa. This surprising fact has been called the “Asian enigma.” The enigma is not resolved by genetic differences between the Indian population and others. Babies adopted very early in life from India into developing countries grow much taller. Indeed, history is full of examples of populations that were deemed genetically short but eventually grew as tall as any other when the environment improved.

So, what input into child health and growth is especially poor in India? One answer that I explore in a recent research paper is widespread open defecation, without using a toilet or latrine. Faeces contain germs that, when released into the environment, make their way onto children’s fingers and feet, into their food and water, and wherever flies take them. Exposure to these germs not only gives children diarrhoea, but over the long term, also can cause changes in the tissues of their intestines that prevent the absorption and use of nutrients in food, even when the child does not seem sick.

More than half of all people in the world who defecate in the open live in India. According to the 2011 Indian census, 53 per cent of households do not use any kind of toilet or latrine. This essentially matches the 55 per cent found by the National Family Health Survey in 2005.

Open defecation is not so common elsewhere. The list of African countries with lower percentage rates of open defecation than India includes Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and more. In 2008, only 32 per cent of Nigerians defecated in the open; in 2005, only 30 per cent of people in Zimbabwe did. No country measured in the last 10 years has a higher rate of open defecation than Bihar. Twelve per cent of all people worldwide who openly defecate live in Uttar Pradesh.

So, can high rates of open defecation in India statistically account for high rates of stunting? Yes, according to data from the highly-regarded Demographic and Health Surveys, an international effort to collect comparable health data in poor and middle-income countries.

International differences in open defecation can statistically account for over half of the variation across countries in child height. Indeed, once open defecation is taken into consideration, Indian stunting is not exceptional at all: Indian children are just about exactly as short as would be expected given sanitation here and the international trend. In contrast, although it is only one example, open defecation is much less common in China, where children are much taller than in India.

Further analysis in the paper suggests that the association between child height and open defecation is not merely due to some other coincidental factor. It is not accounted for by GDP or differences in food availability, governance, female literacy, breastfeeding, immunisation, or other forms of infrastructure such as availability of water or electrification. Because changes over time within countries have an effect on height similar to the effect of differences across countries, it is safe to conclude that the effect is not a coincidental reflection of fixed genetic or cultural differences. I do not have space here to report all of the details of the study, nor to properly acknowledge the many other scholars whose work I draw upon; I hope interested readers will download the full paper at http://goo.gl/PFy43.

DOUBLE THREAT

Of course, poor sanitation is not the only threat to Indian children’s health, nor the only cause of stunting. Sadly, height reflects many dimensions of inequality within India: caste, birth order, women’s status. But evidence suggests that socially privileged and disadvantaged children alike are shorter than they would be in the absence of open defecation.

Indeed, the situation is even worse for Indian children than the simple percentage rate of open defecation suggests. Living near neighbours who defecate outside is more threatening than living in the same country as people who openly defecate but live far away. This means that height is even more strongly associated with the density of open defecation: the average number of people per square kilometre who do not use latrines. Thus, stunting among Indian children is no surprise: they face a double threat of widespread open defecation and high population density.

The importance of population density demonstrates a simple fact: Open defecation is everybody’s problem. It is the quintessential “public bad” with negative spillover effects even on households that do not practise it. Even the richest 2.5 per cent of children — all in urban households with educated mothers and indoor toilets — are shorter, on average, than healthy norms recommend. They do not openly defecate, but some of their neighbours do. These privileged children are almost exactly as short as children in other countries who are exposed to a similar amount of nearby open defecation.

If open defecation indeed causes stunting in India, then sanitation reflects an emergency not only for health, but also for the economy. After all, stunted children grow into less productive adults.

It is time for communities, leaders, and organisations throughout India to make eliminating open defecation a top priority. This means much more than merely building latrines; it means achieving widespread latrine use. Latrines only make people healthier if they are used for defecation. They do not if they are used to store tools or grain, or provide homes for the family goats, or are taken apart for their building materials. Any response to open defecation must take seriously the thousands of publicly funded latrines that sit unused (at least as toilets) in rural India. Perhaps surprisingly, giving people latrines is not enough.

Ending a behaviour as widespread as open defecation is an immense task. To its considerable credit, the Indian government has committed itself to the work, and has been increasing funding for sanitation. Such a big job will depend on the collaboration of many people, and the solutions that work in different places may prove complex. The assistant responsible for rural sanitation at your local Block Development Office may well have one of the most important jobs in India. Any progress he makes could be a step towards taller children — who become healthier adults and a more productive workforce.

(Dean Spears is an economics PhD candidate at Princeton University and visiting researcher at the Delhi School of Economics.)

Smuggled Photos Document Wahhabi Erasure of Islamic History

Saudi regime demolishes Masjid al-Haram holy sites in Mecca

PressTV
These photos from the Independent, obtained by the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation shows demolition of the holy sites at the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.
Photos taken by activists in Saudi Arabia showing the destruction of the Grand Mosque
Photos taken by activists in Saudi Arabia showing the destruction of the Grand Mosque
New photos taken by Saudi activists show that the Riyadh regime has demolished many holy sites at the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca under the cloak of a development plan implemented by Osama bin Laden’s family business.

Photographs obtained by the Independent show workers with drills and mechanical diggers tearing down some Ottoman and Abbasid sections on the eastern side of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca – the Grand Mosque.

The Masjid al-Haram is the holiest Islamic site and houses Ka’aba, the point to which all Muslims face when praying.

The segments under demolition are the last remaining parts of the mosque, dating back to more than a few hundred years.

One column which has reportedly been razed marks the spot where Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) started his heavenly journey Meraj (Night Ascension) to al-Quds (Jerusalem) and to heaven in a single night.

Many of the Ottoman and Abbasid columns at the Masjid al-Haram contain Arabic calligraphy marking the names of the Prophet’s companions and remarkable moments in his life.

Saudi authorities claim that the demolitions are part of a multi-billion-dollar development plan aimed at increasing the capacity of Masjid al-Haram.

The Saudi mega-corporation Binladin Group (Osama bin Laden’s family business) has won the tender for the expansion project.

The Binladin Group is an active member of the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council and plays a central role in deciding bilateral policy for the benefit of collective US-Saudi corporate-financier and corresponding geopolitical interests.

Saudi King Abdullah has also appointed the top Wahhabi cleric and imam of the Grand Mosque, Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, to be in charge of the development plan.

Critics have described the development project as part of a Western and Israeli agenda and lashed out at the Saudi regime for deliberately disregarding the archaeological, historical and cultural heritage of Islam.

Observers attribute Riyadh’s disdain for historic sites of Islam to the kingdom’s association with Wahhabism, which is an extreme and inflexible interpretation of Islam.

The Saudi Embassy in London has declined to provide any explanation about the issue and merely replied, “Thank you for calling, but no comment.”

Dr. Irfan al-Alawi, the executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation which obtained the new photographs from inside the Grand Mosque, says the development of the Masjid al-Haram could be carried out without the demolition of its historical holy sites.

“It matters because many of these columns signified certain areas of the mosque where the Prophet sat and prayed,” Alawi said.

“The historical record is being deleted. A new Muslim would never have a clue because there’s nothing marking these locations now. There are ways you could expand Mecca and Medina while protecting the historical heritage of the mosque itself and the surrounding sites,” Alawi stated.

Under the pretext of a similar development project, the Saudi regime plans to bulldoze three of the world’s oldest mosques around Masjid al-Nabawi in the holy city of Medina.

Saudi officials have not declared any plans with respect to preserving the historical mosques that are covered by the Ottoman-era structures.

The Washington-based (Persian) Gulf Institute says Riyadh has bulldozed 95 percent of 1,000-year-old buildings in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in the past 20 years with the aim of expanding shopping centers, skyscrapers and luxury hotels.

During the construction of the Jabal Omar complex in Mecca, which overshadowed Masjid al-Haram, Saudi officials destroyed many archeological sites, particularly Prophet Mohammad’s birth place and the house of Prophet’s wife, Khadijah (PBUH), turning the holy locations into library and public toilet respectively.

Two of the seven key historic mosques built to mark the Battle of the Trench and a mosque belonging to the Prophet’s grandson were also dynamited ten years ago.

Surprisingly, pictures of demolition of the ancient mosque, which were taken secretly and then smuggled out of the kingdom, reveal the Saudi religious police hailing and celebrating the collapse of the Islamic monuments.

ASH/HSN

The Brilliant Pentagon Plan To Ignite Holy War In the Middle East and the Unacceptable Price That Civilians Must Pay

[SEE:  America’s “Islamists” Go Where Oilmen Fear to Tread ;  f the Script Calls for Credible “Bad Guys,” Then Invent Some! ]

New Excuse for Greater CIA Involvement in Iraq

Lobe Log

nusra-Syria

by Wayne White

With a long history of misguided, damaging American intervention and meddling in the Middle East, the reported CIA effort to target the al-Nusra Front in Syria by helping Iraqi anti-terrorism units to attack its roots in Iraq seems to be the former and possibly destined to be the latter.

The Sunni Arab politics of Iraq, already complicated by the 2003 American invasion, have been further harmed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s unremitting hostility toward Iraq’s Sunni Arab community. He and his Shi’a cronies bitterly opposed the American deal with Sunni Arab insurgents back in late 2006 through 2008, and attempted to undermine the arrangement while US-Sunni Arab Awakening efforts to take down much of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) were in progress.

In the years since, Maliki has been rather consistent in his exclusion of the bulk of Iraq’s Sunni Arabs from the Baghdad political mainstream. He has driven away many of those who have sought or secured office using the machinery of so-called “de-Ba’thification” and has even purged, assassinated or arrested large numbers of former Awakening cadres as well as various other key Sunni Arabs, often on trumped up charges of terrorism (or no formal charges at all — frequently employing his own extrajudicial security forces or Iraq’s mainly Shi’a Anti-Terrorism Service, which answers directly to him).

In this context, it is hardly surprising that a robust measure of Sunni Arab extremism flourishes in Iraq (apparently more now than back in 2008 when most Sunni Arabs were, by contrast, relatively more war-weary and eager for some sort of enduring engagement with the government in Baghdad). Resentment over Maliki’s disinterest in anything that would re-integrate Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority into much of the country’s core activities has done a lot to sustain a drumfire of AQI bombings inside Iraq and, since late 2011, sent gaggles of Islamic fighters from Iraq’s Sunni Arab northwest into the raging battle for Syria.

Al-Nusra probably is to a large extent an arm of AQI, as the US alleges, but also could be the recipient of many Iraqi fighters simply enraged over the plight of Sunni Arabs in their own country more generally. Additionally, there are quite a few historic tribal and family connections that extend far beyond the Syrian-Iraqi border, making events in Syria that much more palpably personal for quite a few Sunni Arabs inside Iraq.

So al-Nusra most likely is more than an organization; a phenomenon welling up from the profound resentment among many Sunni Arabs toward hostile political orders in both countries. If so, that’s not something that can be surgically extracted. Unfortunately, there always is the possibility that somewhere down the road a frustrated Washington (after Baghdad inevitably fails to address al-Nusra, just as it has been unable to deal a crippling blow to AQI) might think drones offer such a capability. If, however, they ever were employed over Sunni Arab areas of Iraq, the anger currently aimed primarily at the Maliki government and the Assad regime would become far more focused on the US.

Al-Nusra clearly is an unwelcome and dangerous player on the opposition side amidst the fighting in Syria. Yet, the sheer length, brutality, mass destruction, horrific casualties and more than a million refugees generated by the violence so far, predictably have rendered more extreme certain elements of the opposition. The seeming rise in regime-like rebel atrocities most likely is linked to some extent to the duration of the carnage.

The US already has become unpopular in broad Syrian opposition and popular circles for not providing desperately needed military assistance. At first, this frustration centered upon frantic requests for a US/NATO no fly zone over Syria. Since hope for that evaporated, attention shifted to arms and ammunition needed by rebels to take on regime-armored vehicles and air power. Some oppositionists in Syria may understand why the US remains wary of providing surface to air missiles that could very well fall into the hands of international terrorist groups, but anti-tank rockets are less of a concern in that respect. Yet, Washington decided not to send any arms whatsoever to opposition fighters — even vetted ones — late last summer and once again recently.

The US designation of al-Nusra as a terrorist group does not appear to have reduced that group’s high military profile as the tip of the opposition’s combat spear against the forces of the Assad regime. And involving the US in a campaign against al-Nusra’s support base in Iraq now could easily be perceived more broadly as being anti-Sunni Arab. After all, many of Iraq’s Sunni Arabs might ask pointedly why the US has chosen not to take a stronger stand against Maliki’s ongoing persecution of and human rights violations against Iraq’s Sunni Arab community — concerns that extend far beyond AQI and its supporters.

Iraq essentially remains in a state of sectarian conflict with Maliki playing the leading role as provocateur. The opposition effort to take down the Assad regime in Syria also has become, in large measure, a sectarian conflict.

By doing little to cross Maliki about his mistreatment of Sunni Arabs, going after al-Nusra in Iraq and providing meager support to the Syrian opposition, Washington potentially is setting itself up to be viewed — at least by Sunni Arab participants in these struggles — as anti-Sunni Arab across much of the greater Arab al-Jazira region as well as the northern Levant. The US faces enough grievances in the region as it is. Why add more to the list?

Saudi Arabia Wants the Entire Middle East, Except for the Zionist Toilet

Saudi Fuel, Syrian Fire

pacificfreepress

Sunni Rollback: the Second Front
by Peter Lee – China Matters

“If Syria falls, we are liberated; if we are liberated, Syria will be liberated. We have the same battle with Iran – by defeating them we break the Shia crescent of Iran, Syria and Lebanon.”

Readers of this blog know I have been promoting the ideathat Saudi Arabia, in particular, will not be interested in negotiating an end to the bloodshed in Syria that involves anything less than an overthrow of Assad and a triumph by the largely Sunni rebels.

That’s because I believe Saudi Arabia has its eyes on the prize: a Sunni resurgence that captures Iraq as well as Syria and isolates Iran.  And it isn’t going to endanger the regional Sunni insurgency by letting peace break out in Syria and standing idly by as Western and non-Sunni governments mop up the extremist foot soldiers (as happened in the “Sunni Awakening” a.k.a. the violent suppression of Al Qaeda in Iraq coordinated by the US military with more moderate Sunni sheiks).
So the pot is going to stay boiling, in my opinion, with Saudi fuel thoughtfully provided via western Iraq as well as directly to Syria.
On the subject of Iraq—the second Sunni front, by my formulation–two data points torn from the headlines.
First, from the Guardian’s Ghaith Abdul-Ahad on the apparently snowballing (if such a simile is apt for the torrid deserts of western Iraq) Sunni insurgency against the Maliki regime and the major buy-in it has received from the Gulf:

In Mosul and Falluja, tent cities have sprung up in public squares. Some have even demonstrated in Sunni areas of Baghdad, braving the draconian Friday security measures imposed on them.

But perhaps more remarkable is the scene inside the tent. Among the tribal sheikhs and activists around Abu Saleh are former enemies and victims, men who feared him and men who hunted him on behalf of the Americans. Sensing an opportunity, Sunni factions have put aside their differences to mount a common front against Baghdad.

Abu Saleh, rotund and balding, explains how a week after the first demonstrations in Sunni cities, he and other fighters commanding the remnants of Sunni insurgent groups held a series of meetings to form a pact and use the momentum in Sunni cities.

“Call us the honourable nationalistic factions – people here are still sensitive to using words like mujahideen or resistance. We decided to sign a truce with the tribal sheikhs, other factions and even moderate elements in al-Qaida,” he said.

“The Sunnis were never united like this from the fall of Baghdad until now. This is a new stage we are going through: first came the American occupation, then the resistance, then al-Qaida dominated us, and then came internal fighting and the awakening … now there is a truce even with the tribal sheikhs who fought and killed our cousins and brothers.

“The politicians have joined us and we have the legitimacy of the street. To be honest, we had reached a point when people hated us, only your brother would support you.”

One of the things that transformed the reputation of men such as Abu Saleh in the eyes of their fellow Sunnis has been their involvement in the Syrian conflict, a few hundred miles west along the highway.

The conflict pitted Sunni rebels against government forces and Alawites, backed by Iran, also patrons of Iraq’s Shia leadership. Weapons flowed to the rebels from the Iraqi tribes – sold for a comfortable profit – while the Iraqi Shia prime minister toed the Iranian line and lent his support to the Syrian regime. With both sides using the same sectarian rhetoric, it was easy to join the dots between the two conflicts.

Abu Saleh found himself fighting his old war in a new field. He lent a hand to the novice Syrian rebels and joined the fight, commanding a unit of his own operating in the city of Aleppo and the countryside north of it.

“We taught them how to cook phosphate and make IEDs. Our struggle here is the same is in Syria. If Syria falls, we are liberated; if we are liberated, Syria will be liberated. We have the same battle with Iran – by defeating them we break the Shia crescent of Iran, Syria and Lebanon.”

Abu Saleh claims that once he and his men had been accepted back in Ramadi, they formed three battalions that had hit convoys carrying supplies to Syria as well as an Iraqi army helicopter.

In another echo of recent Arab uprisings, Abu Saleh says he and other Sunni leaders have now secured support from wealthy Gulf state figures who funded them during the early years of their insurgency against the Americans.

After the truce between Sunni groups, he says, a meeting was set up in the Jordanian capital, Amman, between a united front of Iraqi factions and representatives of “charities” from the Gulf.

The Iraqis asked for money and weapons; after a decade of war their arsenals were almost depleted. What didn’t get destroyed by US or Iraqi forces was sold to the Syrians. They needed money to train and recruit new fighters but more importantly a religious sanction from the religious authorities for a new round of fighting.

The Gulf figures asked for more time and a second meeting was held in Amman, this time attended by a higher-ranking group of officials from the both sides. The answer was yes: the “charities” would offer support as long as the Iraqi Sunnis were united and used their weapons only after Iraqi government units used force against them. Another Sunni leader confirmed to the Guardian that the Amman meetings had taken place.

“There is a new plan, a grand plan not like the last time when we worked individually,” another commander told me. “This time we are organised. We have co-ordinated with countries like Qatar and Saudi and Jordan. We are organising, training and equipping ourselves but we will start peacefully until the right moment arrives. We won’t be making the same mistakes. Baghdad will be destroyed this time.”

And, at LobeLog, ex-US diplomat Wayne White describes the Iraq/Syria synergies and writes about the somewhat desperate (and in his view deluded and self-defeating) US efforts to assist the Maliki government in putting a lid on Sunni extremism inside Iraq—as a parallel to the well-publicized US efforts to funnel arms preferentially to more friendly or, at least, more tractable elements of the Free Syrian Army as a counterweight to Islamist groups:

With a long history of misguided, damaging American intervention and meddling in the Middle East, the reported CIA effort to target the al-Nusra Front in Syria by helping Iraqi anti-terrorism units to attack its roots in Iraq seems to be the former and possibly destined to be the latter.

Resentment over Maliki’s disinterest in anything that would re-integrate Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority into much of the country’s core activities has done a lot to sustain a drumfire of AQI bombings inside Iraq and, since late 2011, sent gaggles of Islamic fighters from Iraq’s Sunni Arab northwest into the raging battle for Syria.

Al-Nusra probably is to a large extent an arm of AQI, as the US alleges, but also could be the recipient of many Iraqi fighters simply enraged over the plight of Sunni Arabs in their own country more generally. Additionally, there are quite a few historic tribal and family connections that extend far beyond the Syrian-Iraqi border, making events in Syria that much more palpably personal for quite a few Sunni Arabs inside Iraq.

 I have a feeling that the United States, when it opportunistically encouraged the bedraggled Syrian opposition not to negotiate with Bashar al Assad, did not realize that what it would get in return was not an admirable but weak and easily led democracy in Syria but a near-total loss of control of the Middle East agenda to the Gulf autocracies and a narrative of trans-national sectarian aggression.
Not the Obama administration’s finest hour, perhaps.

Tunisian Patriots Take A Brave Stand Against Bloodthirsty Saudi Puppets

Thousands of Tunisians call for Islamist government to quit

Reuters_thumb.jpg

Basma, the widow, and the family of assassinated secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid, gather at his tomb to mark the 40th day of mourning after his death in Tunis March 16, 2013. REUTERS/Anis Mili

By Tarek Amara

Tunis

(Reuters) – Thousands of Tunisians took to the streets of the capital Tunis on Saturday to call for an end to an Islamist government they blame for the assassination of a leading secular politician 40 days earlier.

It was the biggest demonstration since Chokri Belaid was gunned down outside his house on February 6, igniting the worst unrest since the Jasmine Revolution that toppled strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 and started the Arab Spring.

In a bid to quell the protests, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali resigned and was replaced by Ali Larayedh, a fellow member of the Islamist Ennahda party, who formed a new coalition government including independents in key ministries.

But protesters on Saturday blamed the ruling party for Belaid’s murder and chanted “Ennahda go,” “The people want a new revolution,” and “The people want to bring down the regime.”

No one has claimed responsibility for the killing, which Belaid’s family blames on Ennahda. The party denies involvement and police say the killer was a radical Salafist Islamist.

Belaid, a left-wing lawyer, was shot at close range outside his Tunis home by an assassin who fled on a motorcycle.

His nine-party Popular Front bloc has only three seats in Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly, which is acting as parliament and writing a new national charter, compared to some 120 for Ennahda and its partners. But Belaid spoke for many who fear religious radicals are stifling freedoms won in the Arab Spring.

The North African state’s new Islamist-led government won a confidence vote on Wednesday although the death of an unemployed man who set himself on fire underscored popular discontent with high unemployment, inflation and corruption.

“They killed Chokri but they cannot kill the values of freedom defended by him,” Belaid’s widow Basma said in front of her husband’s grave on Saturday.

Tunisia’s transition has been more peaceful than those in Egypt and Libya, and has led to freedom of expression and political pluralism. But tensions run high between liberals and the Islamists who did not play a major role in the revolt but were elected to power.

The government is also pressing ahead with tax rises and subsidy cuts to reduce this year’s projected budget deficit of 6 percent of gross domestic product, despite a storm of public criticism.

Lacking the huge oil and gas resources of neighbours Libya and Algeria, Tunisia’s compact size, relatively skilled workforce and close ties with Europe have raised hopes it can set an example of economic progress for the region. Tourism is a major foreign currency earner.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Jason Webb)