Archive

Archive for March, 2012

NATO: U.S.-Led Global Military Alliance With 78 Members and Partners

March 31, 2012 2 comments

NATO: U.S.-Led Global Military Alliance With 78 Members and Partners

 

The 28-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization officially lists the following 40 nations as partners.

With the 22 members of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, all but Russia are also members of the Partnership for Peace program, which graduated twelve nations – Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia – to full membership from 1999-2009.

Other NATO partners not listed below include:

Oman and Saudi Arabia, de facto members of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.

Libya, which late last year NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen identified as a prospective member of the Mediterranean Dialogue.

Kosovo, not recognized by a majority of the world’s nations but in fact the first NATO pseudo-state.

Other countries supplying troops serving under NATO command in Afghanistan that are not formal members of the partnerships itemized below:

Colombia, El Salvador (according to then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates earlier and as recently as yesterday by U.S. ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder), Malaysia, Singapore and Tonga.

Somalia (Puntland), used by NATO for its Operation Ocean Shield in the Gulf of Aden.

In all, 78 nations on all six inhabited continents.

Partners bordering China: Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan and Tajikistan.

Members and partners bordering Russia: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Norway, Poland and Ukraine.

Members and partners bordering Iran: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan, with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates directly across it in the Persian Gulf.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Partners

 

NATO cooperates with a range of international organizations and countries in different structures. Below is a list of these partners with links to their information servers.

The following seven countries of the Mediterranean region are currently involved:

1st Chamber Senate Government Head of State Prime Minister Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ministry of Defence Armed Forces Delegation
Algeria
Egypt
Israel
Jordan
Mauritania
Morocco Prime Minister
Tunisia Government Head of State

Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI)

To date, the following four countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council have joined:

1st Chamber Senate Government Head of State Prime Minister Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ministry of Defence Armed Forces Delegation
Bahrain Government
Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Kuwait Head of State
United Arab Emirates Prime Minister

Partners across the globe

In addition to its formal partnerships, NATO cooperates with a range of countries which are not part of these structures. Often referred to as “Partners across the globe”, these countries develop cooperation with NATO in areas of mutual interest, including emerging security challenges, and some contribute actively to NATO operations either militarily or in some other way.

1st Chamber Senate Government Head of State Prime Minister Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ministry of Defence Armed Forces Delegation
Flag of Afghanistan Afghanistan Government Head of State Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Flag of Australia Australia Government Government Head of State Prime Minister Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ministry of Defence
Flag of Iraq Iraq Government Government Head of State Prime Minister Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ministry of Defence
Flag of Japan Japan 1st Chamber Senate Prime Minister Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Flag of Pakistan Pakistan 1st Chamber Senate Government Head of State Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ministry of Defence
Flag of the Republic of Korea Republic of Korea Government Head of State Prime Minister Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ministry of Defence
Flag of New Zealand New Zealand Government Government Head of State Prime Minister Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ministry of Defence
Flag of Mongolia Mongolia Government Government Head of State

International Organizations

In addition to its partnerships with countries, NATO cooperates with a range of international organizations.

  1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.
Categories: Uncategorized

NATO’s New Battlefield: Pakistan

March 31, 2012 1 comment

Dawn
March 31, 2012

Salala report
Selected and translated by Zaheer Mahmood Siddiqui

Dozens of Pakistani troops were martyred or injured in a barbaric attack by US-led Nato helicopters on the Salala check post…[T]he US military has obstinately put the entire blame on Pakistani troops in the two investigations.

[A] US military investigation exonerated the Americans from any aggression. A second inquiry by the Pentagon to determine whether any American military personnel should be punished said “no”, justifying the action through the childish defence of the Americans firing in self-defence…

The inquiry report further claimed that Pakistani troops fired first from two check posts that were not on Nato maps and that they kept firing even after the Americans tried to warn them that they were shooting at coalition forces. The US-led Nato soldiers retaliated in self-defence and the Pakistani troops are solely responsible for the incident.

This is akin to a criminal intimidating the judge…

Let us suppose that our troops fired first. Were they so helpless that they could not hit any helicopter? Not a single attacker was injured in the crossfire that continued for more than one and a half hours. How can this be termed a shootout between the two forces?

The Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) suggested in the recommendations presented before parliament that the resumption of Nato supplies should be made conditional to an unconditional apology from the US on the Salala airstrikes. But the Washington administration is of the view that if President Obama formally tendered an apology to Pakistan, it would benefit his Republican opponents in the presidential race…So this is a big problem for them. Instead of compensating [Pakistan] or giving assurances that such attacks will not recur, the Americans consider it insulting to apologise over the barbaric act.

This is sheer hypocrisy: to declare a state a coalition partner, use its soil and resources without any hindrance, and violate Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty without any regrets. Adding salt to injury have been the “do more” demands.

Categories: Uncategorized

Namibia: NATO, EU Flexing Military Muscles Everywhere In The World

March 31, 2012 2 comments

The Namibian
March 28, 2012

China-Country Must Close Ranks – Speaker Gurirab

“The world belongs to us all, not only them,” commented National Assembly Speaker Theo-Ben Gurirab, criticising what he called NATO and the European Union (EU) “flexing their muscles everywhere in the world militarily and economically and using massive intelligence and security projections worldwide trying to have their way”.

Addressing a Chinese delegation to Namibia headed by vice chairperson of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), Hua Jianmin, Gurirab added: “We must resist.”

He said under the “guise of human rights, military intervention and regime change have replaced dialogue and peaceful co-existence in the world”.

And, he said, Africa has once again become “their playground and might-makes-right type of arrogance of power has become an everyday activity”.

“Africa is divided and new forms of horse trading and bribes are undermining solidarity and common purpose among some of our leadership across our common borders. The United Nations itself is divided on the crucial priorities of its charter. The African Union has all but lost its united voice, it seems,” Gurirab said.

Moreover, said Gurirab, south-south cooperation is severely challenged.

“China and Namibia must remain loyal to history and also firmly close ranks in our common pursuit of unity, mutual support and targeted economic and technical cooperation,” he stressed.

Categories: Uncategorized

West Blocking Investigation Of NATO Victims In Libya: Russian UN Envoy

March 31, 2012 1 comment

Itar-Tass
March 30, 2012

Western partners in UN try to downplay NATO’s victims in Libya – Churkin

UNITED NATIONS: Russia continues to ‘closely address’ the issue of civilian casualties in Libya as a result of NATO bombardments, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin confirmed on Friday.

“Regrettably, our Western partners in the UN Security Council have been trying to play down and hush up the affair in every way they can,” Churkin told Itar-Tass. “Last time the issue was brought up in the UN Security Council they put forward an amazing excuse to the effect it would be far better to look into the future.”

The Russian diplomat said this attitude “does not hold water.” He pointed out that for the Security Council the question of civilian victims of NATO’s bombardments in Libya “is important, because the deaths among the civilian population was a result of operations approved in this building, and the whole operation was conceived as a means to protect civilians.”

Churkin recalled that as he addressed the UN Security Council on March 12, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov demanded investigation into reports of civilian victims of bombardments in Libya and urged the UN Secretary-General to shed light on that issue, using the Declaration on UN/NATO Secretriat Cooperation, signed in 2008.

In the meantime, as UN officials have said, the UN Secretary-General has no plans for taking any steps along these lines. On Friday journalists asked the UN Secretary General’s deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey about Ban Ki-moon’s response to the North Atlantic Alliance’s refusal to cooperate with the international commission for the investigation of human rights abuse in Libya the UN Human Rights Council had created. The deputy spokesman looked confused and then said that it depended entirely on the Human Rights Council how to achieve cooperation with NATO.

NATO’s massive air campaign, launched in March 2011 against the Muamar Gaddafi regime, saw 26,000 sorties, including 10,000 attack sorties. According to official reports, the alliance’s planes destroyed 5,900 military targets. The operation ended only after Gaddafi’s physical elimination by Libyan rebels last October.

In its report published on March 2 the UN Human Rights Commission presented evidence of the death of at least 50 civilians as a result of NATO’s air raids. The international human rights organization Amnesty International gathered documentary evidence of the death of at least 55 civilians, including 16 women and 14 children, that NATO’s air strikes had led to. Such cases occurred after air raids on Tripoli, Sirt, Marsa-el Brega, Zliten and Majer.

“Implausibly, NATO insists it knows of no ‘confirmed’ civilian casualties during its entire seven-month Libya bombing campaign,” says an editorial in Friday’s New York Times. “Confirmed” means confirmed by NATO, which has shown little interest in investigating credible independent claims of civilian fatalities, including a 27-page memo submitted by The Times last year documenting nine separate attacks where the evidence pointed to unintended victims.”

The newspaper describes as impermissible NATO’s refusal to cooperate with the UN commission.

“If NATO’s military leaders continue to resist a public inquiry, in concert with the U.N. or by NATO itself, President Obama and other political leaders of the alliance should press them to change their minds,” says the New York Times.

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S., NATO Massively Expand Sea-Based Interceptor Missile Program

March 30, 2012 1 comment

Strategic Culture Foundation
March 29, 2012

The BMD Demands a New Tough Response
Vladimir Kozin*
Edited by RR

=====

The major specific feature of the EPAA first phase was the achievement of the initial capability to hit short, medium and even “intermediate” (including missiles with a range of 3,000-5,500 km) range ballistic missiles, mainly thanks to moving the global missile defense sea component, that is the Aegis command and control multifunctional integrated system with SM-2 and SM-3 interceptors, to European shores.

[T]he USA is a long-time leader in sea-based missile defense systems. At the beginning of 2012 there were a total of 24 Aegis-equipped ships (5 Ticonderoga class cruisers and 19 Arleigh Burke class destroyers) in the US Navy inventory. According to US long-term, thirty-year (2011-2041), shipbuilding program, 84 ships are to be upgraded to acquire the Aegis capability: 10 out of 22 cruisers and practically all destroyers (74 ships).

An Aegis-equipped Ticonderoga cruiser or an Arleigh Burke destroyer is capable of launching up to 30 SM-2 or SM-3 interceptors of various modifications. So the overall number of such “interceptor ships” may grow up to 84, making the total global sea-based interceptor missiles force exceed 2,500.

A sophisticated multilayered and multi-echelon missile defense architecture is being created in the immediate vicinity of Russia, encompassing Europe and Asia. It’s major specific feature is that in any emergency on the international scene, the architecture is going to interact most closely with US and NATO tactical and strategic nuclear potentials.

====

Wrapping up the “sidelines” meeting at the Seoul nuclear summit, Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama acknowledged by mutual consent they failed to get ahead in finding a common stance on the most acute but still unsolved issue of global dimensions – the creation of some kind of “cooperative” Russia-USA/NATO joint ballistic missile defense (BMD) in Europe.

The US President asked for a “time out” till the US presidential campaign is over. He also dropped a hint he would have “more flexibility” concerning missile defense bilateral cooperation prospects if re-elected in November.

Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama confined themselves to an agreement to continue consultations, but not full-scale talks, in the next six-eight months with the participation of technical experts.

Actually the meeting repeated the zero results of the talks in Honolulu in November 2011 followed by the well-known statement by the Russian president listing the military-technical steps to be taken in response to continuation of the US-NATO “missile shield” build-up in Europe while ignoring Russia’s security concerns.

It’s still not known how serious Washington’s intent is to discuss the European missile defense with Russia. The hopes Moscow had to reach a concrete agreement with the USA at the end of last year and before the then-forthcoming event in Seoul the NATO summit in Chicago in May are fading away.

Its looks like Washington has the intention of going on deploying missile defense infrastructure on the European continent and around it using the postponement of decision finding deliberations to its advantage: its plan was wrapped up and made final a long time ago.

First, it’s not known if Barack Obama will continue to be the head of state and supreme commander of the armed forces. If he stays, what will his stance on missile defense be like? Will it be like the present one – “foot dragging”?

Secondly, what will a Republican president-elect do in case he manages to win? Actually, nearly all Republican senators have spoken out against changes in the US stance on missile defense or taking Russia’s concerns into account. Just recently 43 out of 47 Republican Senators signed a warning letter to Obama saying they would not support any limitations concerning the European missile defense component being deployed in case the current administration comes up with such plans.

Let’s remember that during the deliberations on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-3) ratification Barack Obama assured the senators that under no circumstances would he introduce “qualitative or quantitative” limitations on the BMD infrastructure or sacrifice US national security interests.

The first phase of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) missile defense plan was successfully fulfilled in 2011, the nest stage of the program is being implemented.

The major specific feature of the EPAA first phase was the achievement of the initial capability to hit short, medium and even “intermediate” (including missiles with a range of 3,000-5,500 km) range ballistic missiles, mainly thanks to moving the global missile defense sea component, that is the Aegis command and control multifunctional integrated system with SM-2 and SM-3 interceptors, to European shores.

It’s worth emphasizing that the USA is a long-time leader in sea-based missile defense systems. At the beginning of 2012 there were a total of 24 Aegis-equipped ships (5 Ticonderoga class cruisers and 19 Arleigh Burke class destroyers) in the US Navy inventory. According to US long-term, thirty-year (2011-2041), shipbuilding program, 84 ships are to be upgraded to acquire the Aegis capability: 10 out of 22 cruisers and practically all destroyers (74 ships).

The naval missile defense component is constantly gaining more importance in the overall missile defense architecture. The plans in force foresee an increase of the number of SM-3 interceptors from 111 in 2011 up to 436 in 2015 and 515 in 2020 (not 50 as some Russian experts say!). An Aegis-equipped Ticonderoga cruiser or an Arleigh Burke destroyer is capable of launching up to 30 SM-2 or SM-3 interceptors of various modifications. So the overall number of such “interceptor ships” may grow up to 84, making the total global sea-based interceptor missiles force exceed 2,500.

Further, NATO missile defense command and control facilities were built while implementing the first stage of the European Phased Adaptive Approach plan. Early warning systems are upgraded, new radars are being installed. Unlike other military programs, national missile defense and its overseas (European) component are immune from budget cuts, its expenditure preserves a stable tendency to grow.

Close Washington allies besides NATO members (like the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania) are actively joining the program. For instance, Japan, a neutral state that in fact has become an alliance member a long time ago, has contributed to a technological breakthrough in enhancing the interceptors’ capabilities. The technology has been successfully used by the USA to its advantage. Australia and South Korea are long-time missile defense development partners.

A sophisticated multilayered and multi-echelon missile defense architecture is being created in the immediate vicinity of Russia, encompassing Europe and Asia. It’s major specific feature is that in any emergency on the international scene, the architecture is going to interact most closely with US and NATO tactical and strategic nuclear potentials.

Under the circumstances, Russia needs to take a more tough and resolute stance in defending its national security interests. Washington’s attempts to impose discussions on tactical nuclear weapons and make them part of the agenda separately from missile defense plans should be repelled. The deployment of missile defense along with NATO partners and some Asia-Pacific region allies should be taken into account while outlining the pattern of future strategic offensive arms reduction talks.

Finally, Russia should toughen its military-technical and diplomatic-political response to the United States in case it doesn’t realize what kind of adventure it is pushing the world into while vibrantly developing and installing practically everywhere its missile defense components that enhance the US nuclear potential capability. A long-time experience of arms control testifies to the fact that Washington doesn’t understand the language of polite diplomacy, but rather only responds to practical military-technical actions making it also face complex challenges to its own security.

While Russian and US technical experts discuss some missile defense aspects till the end of this year, it’s expedient to come out with a simple but logical step (if such a proposal has not been put forward to the White House as yet): to freeze further deployment of US and NATO missile defense in Europe till the experts’ work is done. It will make their efforts more fruitful.

*Vladimir Kozin is principal researcher at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, member of the Expert Council of the Inter-Agency Working Group under the administration of the President of the Russian Federation for the interaction with NATO in missile defense.

Categories: Uncategorized

Pentagon: NATO To Use India If Pakistan Continues To Block Afghan War Supplies

March 30, 2012 1 comment

Press Trust of India
March 30, 2012

‘US to rely on India if Pak doesn’t open NATO route’

Washington: The US will have to default and rely on India and the Northern Distribution network if Pakistan does not open up its crucial Afghan supply route, a top Pentagon official told lawmakers on Thursday.

However, the Pentagon official testifying before a Congressional subcommittee did not gave details of the Indian network, on which it can depend for its crucial supplies to Afghanistan.

“If we can’t negotiate or successfully negotiate the reopening of the PAK GLOC (Ground Lines of Communication) we have to default and rely on India and the Northern Distribution Network, our increased strat airlift,” Marine Corps Lieutenant General Frank Panter, the Deputy Commandant for Installations and Logistics, told lawmakers.

Both are expensive propositions and it increases the deployment or redeployment, Panter said in his testimony before the Readiness Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.

Islamabad has closed the NATO supply route after the November 26 cross-border fire that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

At the same time, the Pentagon official indicated that this (India) is a sensitive issue.

“There’s always that sensitive issue about the nations. We’re dealing with the Indian network in itself. If for some reason there’s additional political strain related to these countries, that restricts the flow as well. Redeployment timelines, by not being able to use the PAK GLOC, will increase along with, as you mentioned, ma’am, the cost as well,” he said.

“Despite all these challenges, though, TRANSCOM and CENTCOM, they do have mitigation strategies in place. I would be more than happy to talk about those as well. There are quite a few of them. But negotiations are ongoing, as you know, to reopen the PAK GLOC,” Panter said.

Army Lieutenant General Raymond Mason, Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics, said the Pak GLOC is critical and it has been closed since November.

“The Northern Distribution Network, it’s three to four times more expensive because it’s three to four times lengthier. It’s very complicated, a variety of different methods – rail, ferries, truck – so significant amount of changing and loading and unloading, so that adds to the cost as well,” he added.

—————————————————————————-

Online International News Network
March 30, 2012

US Generals can’t change govt, army stance on NATO supply: Mukhtar

ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar Thursday urged that the visit of two or three US army men cannot change the stance of the government and Army regarding NATO supplies.

Talking to the media, the minister maintained that only parliament is sovereign in order to decide the restoration of NATO supply.

He said that talks regarding the opening of the NATO supply line are not being held while parliament would give its decision by reviewing the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and the government and army would follow the decision of the parliament.

Mukhtar said, therefore, the US should also respect the decision of the parliament. He added the recent visit of US army men cannot pressurize the government and army.

The national security and sovereignty of the country would be assured at any cost, while anyone who will go against the national security will have stern action taken against him, he added.

Categories: Uncategorized

NATO Holds Talks To Expand Missile Shield Into Ukraine

Interfax-Ukraine
March 30, 2012

NATO sees prospects for cooperation with Ukraine

Cooperation between Ukraine and NATO in the anti-missile defense sphere has potential, NATO Liaison Office in Ukraine Marcin Koziel has said.

“There is potential for cooperation between Ukraine and NATO, in particular in the sphere of anti-missile defense,” he said at a roundtable discussion entitled “Transatlantic Safety, New Challenges and Architecture of Anti-Missile Defense, Priorities and Prospects for Central and Eastern Europe and Ukraine” in Kyiv on Friday.

Koziel said NATO is eager to cooperate with Ukraine.

In turn, representative of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine Yuriy Fedkiv said that NATO is ready to “discuss with its partners the issues related to anti-missile defense and welcomes any proposals, including those from Ukraine, on the issue.”

Fedkiv added that regardless of Ukraine’s decision not to continue its way towards NATO membership, there is an annual program [Ukraine-NATO Action Plan], and this program “should become the basis for the cooperation that Ukraine is building with NATO.”

“We call on the government of Ukraine to use this tool for reform implementation in full,” he said.

—————————————————————————-

RT
March 30, 2012

NATO eyes deploying AMD in Ukraine

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is holding talks with Kiev over Ukraine’s possible participation in the alliance’s planned missile defense system n Europe.

According to the head of the NATO Liaison Office in Ukraine, Marchin Koziel, the deployment of the system’s elements is a priority for the alliance. He says during the summit in Lisbon, NATO heads agreed on the possibility of involving non-member countries – or “third countries”- in the planned missile shield in Europe.

Thanks to “its ballistics missiles, technologies, know-how, experience or simply the process of European integration,” Ukraine is such a country, he stated speaking at a round table meeting in Kiev, reports the Rosbalt news agency.

The alliance and the leadership of the former Soviet republic are holding informal consultations regarding the issue on both political and technical levels, Koziel said.

After the February meeting between NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostiantyn Hryschenko, the latter announced Ukraine would participate in the upcoming alliance summit in Chicago.

NATO, for its part, noted that Kiev was interested in cooperation with the organization on the creation of the missile defense system.

Rasmussen also said that NATO will invite Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich to take part in the summit in May.

Ukraine had long been bidding to join the military alliance. However, after Yanukovich replaced his pro-Western predecessor Viktor Yushchenko, the country’s policy made a u-turn. The new leader signed a decree declaring that Ukraine would remain non-aligned to any political-military unions, but would still continue to cooperate with NATO and other blocks based upon common interests.

—————————————————————————-

National Radio Company of Ukraine
March 29, 2012

Ukraine interested in further developing of strategic partnership with USA

This is what Secretary of the National Defense and Security Council of Ukraine (NSDC) Andriy Kliuyev said at a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft today in Kyiv.

The sides also discussed a number of issues of bilateral cooperation, including in the areas of international security, investment, trade and energy. Andriy Kliuyev informed the American diplomat about the new role of National Security and Defense of Ukraine.

Categories: Uncategorized

Stop NATO news: March 30, 2012

March 30, 2012 1 comment

====

Australia: U.S. Can Station Aircraft Carriers, Nuclear Attack Submarines, Drones

Australia: NATO’s Main Military Partner In Asia-Pacific

Philippines Offers U.S. Wider Military Access, Seeks Weapons

Georgia Deploys Paramilitary Formations On Abkhaz Border: Russia

Armenia: NATO’s Third Outpost In The Caucasus

Cambodia: U.S. Completes Fourth Annual Military Exercise

Thailand: U.S. Ends Largest-Ever Annual Air Exercise

Pentagon Installs Comprehensive New Radar System In “Arabian” Gulf

NATO Trains Finnish, Swedish Warplane Crews For Baltic Operations

U.S. Sells Morocco 60 Howitzers, Trains Army In Their Use

====

Australia: U.S. Can Station Aircraft Carriers, Nuclear Attack Submarines, Drones

http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=168512

Agence France-Presse
March 29, 2012

US-Australia military co-operation stepped up in Asia-Pacific
Martin parry

Australia said yesterday it may allow the US to use its territory to operate long-range spy drones, as part of an increased US presence in the Asia-Pacific region that has rankled with China.

Washington and Canberra could also reportedly station US aircraft carriers and nuclear-powered attack submarines in the Western Australian city of Perth, as part of a major expansion of military ties.

Under the expansion, the first US Marines out of a 2500-strong deployment to Darwin in northern Australia — unveiled last November by President Barack Obama — are to arrive next month. The Marines plan has irked Beijing, but reassured some Asian countries who see it as a statement that Washington intends to stand up for its allies and interests in the region amid concerns about China’s assertiveness.

The Washington Post wrote that the US was considering using the Cocos Islands, atolls in the Indian Ocean off northwest Australia, to launch unmanned surveillance aircraft. The Cocos would replace the US Indian Ocean base of Diego Garcia, which America leases from Britain and which is to be mothballed in 2016.

The Washington Post said Australia’s government was considering upgrading Perth’s Stirling naval base “for deployments and operations in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean by the US Navy”. The upgrade would reportedly help Stirling service large surface warships including US aircraft carriers, and attack submarines.

Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the priorities in closer co-operation were the rotation of Marines through Darwin, greater air access and more use of the Stirling base.

====

Australia: NATO’s Main Military Partner In Asia-Pacific

http://www.nato.int/cps/en/SID-1A5643D9-9F432434/natolive/news_85591.htm

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
March 29, 2012

Australia, a Key Partner in NATO’s security mission

‘You are a highly appreciated partner and contributor': these were the words of welcome and appreciation that the NATO Secretary General expressed to the group of visiting Australian parliamentarians at NATO Headquarters today. ‘In today’s world where the defence of our borders may take us far away, we realize that we cannot accomplish our security mission without our Partners around the Globe’, Mr. Rasmussen said. ‘In this respect, operations in Afghanistan and Australia’s considerable contribution to the International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan (ISAF) since 2006 are a ‘clear testimony of it” he added.

Australia is the largest non-NATO troop contributor in Afghanistan with 1,550 soldiers mainly deployed in Uruzgan province, a long contested area. Afghanistan, but also the forthcoming Chicago Summit, smart defence and NATO-Russia’s relations were amongst the issues of discussion between the parliamentarians and the Secretary General.

The Australian delegation included senators and members of the House of Representatives, representing both the governing Labor Party and opposition Liberal Party of Australia. Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon, MP, Australian Labour Party; Mr. Michael Danby, MP, Australian Labour Party; Senator Anne McEwen, Australian Labour Party, Ms. Nola Marino, MP, Liberal Party of Australia; Mr. Alex Hawke, MP, Liberal Party of Australia and Senator Gary Humphries, Liberal Party of Australia are key legislators interested in different aspects of defence and security in their home country.

The visit provided the participants with the opportunity of discussing the most important security issues of common interest with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and other high level NATO officials and experts, as well as from NATO’s highest military headquarters, Allied Command Operations. In addition to Afghanistan, discussions addressed the issues of emerging global security challenges, and the Alliance’s active engagement in a more efficient and flexible partnership…

NATO’s relations with Australia have fast developed during the past years, resulting in a structured, friendly and operational relationship. An important milestone in NATO-Australia relations was reached when – during his official visit to NATO in January 2012 -, Mr. Kevin Rudd, the then Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs accredited Ambassador Dr. Brendan Nelson as Australia’s representative to NATO.

====

Philippines Offers U.S. Wider Military Access, Seeks Weapons

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20123\30\story_30-3-2012_pg4_3

Reuters
March 29, 2012

Manila offers US wider military access, seeks weapons

MANILA: The Philippines is offering the United States greater access to its airfields and may open new areas for soldiers to use, as the Pacific country seeks stronger military ties with its closest ally, moves likely to further raise tensions with China.

In exchange for opening its bases, the Philippines will ask Washington for more military equipment and training, including another Hamilton-class warship and possibly a squadron of old F-16 jet fighters, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told Reuters on Thursday. “As part of building up our minimum credible defence posture, we would like the Americans to come more often,” del Rosario said in an interview at his office near Manila Bay.

Manila favours more frequent joint military drills, he said. One such exercise, which will be staged on western island Palawan for the first time, is scheduled for April 16. “Let’s have these joint training exercises more frequently and on a bigger scale. As many times as we can, in different places if we can, that’s the objective of the exercise,” del Rosario said, the first official confirmation of talks between the countries on increasing the US military presence in the Philippines.

Del Rosario said the possible purchase of F-16s and the request for a third cutter for the coast guard would be among issues up for discussion at a meeting between the two sides on April 30 in Washington. The US is also looking into gaining access, under a “joint use” arrangement, to around half a dozen civilian airfields in the Philippines, where US transports, fighters and spy planes can land for repairs, refuelling and temporary deployment.

The talks, between among foreign and defence leaders, will precede a meeting between US President Barack Obama and Philippine President Benigno Aquino later this year. In the last 10 years, the Philippines has received about 22 billion pesos ($512.22 million) in US military aid, Del Rosario said.

====

Georgia Deploys Paramilitary Formations On Abkhaz Border: Russia

http://en.trend.az/regions/world/russia/2008380.html

Trend News Agency
March 29, 2012

Russian Foreign Ministry: Georgia creates informal armed groups on border with Abkhazia

Georgia is creating informal armed groups in the border regions with Abkhazia, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told RIA Novosti following the nineteenth round of international discussions on security and stability in the South Caucasus, which was held in Geneva on Thursday.

“Since January, seven people were killed. There were some armed groups. This is confirmed by Georgian opposition politicians. The Georgian side in response to our statements traditionally tried to shift all the responsibility on to the Abkhaz side and provocations from the Russian side. But it sounded very unfounded and we with facts and figures showed that we control the situation, we know the specific places where that happens,” he said.

====

Armenia: NATO’s Third Outpost In The Caucasus

http://www.armradio.am/eng/news/?part=off&id=22412

Public Radio of Armenia
March 29, 2012

     
NATO pledges support for further defense reforms in Armenia 

The annual meeting in Political and Partnerships Committee (PPC) + Armenia format was held at NATO headquarters on March 29.

The Armenian delegation, headed by First Deputy Defense Minister David Tonoyan, and representatives of NATO member and partner countries discussed the implementation of defense reforms in Armenia and the amendment of defense legislature.

The parties noted the considerable progress towards adoption of the new code of conduct of the Armed Forces, development of a new military education doctrine and the capacities of the peacekeeping forces.

The Alliance expressed readiness to continue to support the implementation of reforms in the fields of defense and security.

====

Cambodia: U.S. Completes Fourth Annual Military Exercise

http://english.cri.cn/6966/2012/03/24/3124s688906.htm

Xinhua News Agency
March 24, 2012

U.S., Cambodian Military Drill Ends Successfully

The 12-day joint U. S., Cambodian military exercise Angkor Sentinel 2012 ended successfully on Friday.

The closing ceremony was held at the Training School for Multi- national Peacekeeping Forces in Kampong Speu province, about 48 kilometers west of Phnom Penh, under the presidency of the four- star general Chay Sang Yun, a secretary of state for the Cambodian Defense Ministry, and Jeff Daigle, Charge d’Affairs of the U.S. Embassy to Cambodia.

“The drill was a very good opportunity for Cambodian and U.S. military personnel to create closer friendship relations and to build better military ties between the two countries,” said Chay Sang Yun, adding that about 450 Cambodian armed forces joined the drill.

According to a press release from the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, the drill began from March 13 to 22 in Kampot and Kampong Speu provinces to cement the two countries’ military ties.

It said approximately 100 members of U.S. Army Pacific joined Cambodian armed forces in focusing on peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance operations, including a battalion exercise, a counter improvised explosives devices field exercise, medical civic actions projects to treat underserved rural inhabitants, and battlefield medical activities.

Angkor Sentinel is an annual, bilateral exercise sponsored by U. S. Army Pacific and hosted by the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, it said. This exercise marks the third anniversary of this…military exercise.

====

Thailand: U.S. Ends Largest-Ever Annual Air Exercise

http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123296009

U.S. Air Force
March 29, 2012

U.S., Thai service members conclude Cope Tiger
By Capt. David Herndon
Cope Tiger Public Affairs

-This year more than 1,900 airmen and civilians participated in the exercise, including approximately 430 U.S. service members. The exercise included a total of 92 aircraft and 34 air defense units, including U.S. platforms such as the C-130 Hercules, A-10 Thunderbolt II, C-17 Globemaster III and F-15 Eagle. Combined exercise leaders said this was the largest Cope Tiger bi-lateral freedom jump in its 18-year history.

UDON THANI, Thailand: More than 240 Thai and U.S. airmen and soldiers took part in a personnel drop over Lop Buri, Thailand, to close out this year’s Cope Tiger 2012 multilateral air exercise, which was held here March 12-23.

The mission between the U.S., Thailand and Singapore aimed to improve U.S. and Royal Thai Air Force abilities to inter-operate.

The jump personnel were transported by two U.S. Air Force C-17 aircrews from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and by two C-130 Hercules aircrews from Yokota Air Base, Japan.

The mobility Airmen were staged out of Udon Thani Royal Thai Air Base Base, Thailand, and readied the transport aircraft for static line and high-altitude/low-opening procedures…

This year more than 1,900 airmen and civilians participated in the exercise, including approximately 430 U.S. service members. The exercise included a total of 92 aircraft and 34 air defense units, including U.S. platforms such as the C-130 Hercules, A-10 Thunderbolt II, C-17 Globemaster III and F-15 Eagle. Combined exercise leaders said this was the largest Cope Tiger bi-lateral freedom jump in its 18-year history.

“This was the ultimate training environment to practice the execution of a complex scenario with multiple weapon systems, users and methods of aerial delivery,” said Monaco.

Cope Tiger is an annual, multilateral joint and combined field training exercise that takes place at Korat and Udon Thani Royal Thai Air Force Bases. The exercise aims to enhance readiness and combined/joint interoperability between U.S. forces, allies and partners within the Asia-Pacific region. Exercise scenarios concluded March 23 and redeployment of personnel and aircraft continue this week.

====

Pentagon Installs Comprehensive New Radar System In “Arabian” Gulf

http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123295822

U.S. Air Force
March 28, 2012

New radar helps Airmen defend Arabian Gulf
By Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Grewe
727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron

SOUTHWEST ASIA: Airmen defending the Arabian Gulf have another arrow in their quiver thanks to a new radar system installed at the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing here March 18.

The TPS-75, or “Tipsy-75″ as the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron calls it, is a powerful air surveillance radar capable of providing long-range, real-time radar coverage.

Airmen assigned to the 727th EACS use the TPS-75 to provide 24-hour air defense and surveillance for unknown threats over the entire Arabian Gulf region. The new system gives the radar operators both a bigger and more detailed picture as they monitor all aerial activity in the area.

“Our job is to constantly watch the skies,” said Lt. Col. Steven A. Breitfelder, the 727th EACS commander. “Our operators defend the Arabian Gulf and its surrounding countries by monitoring the area for enemy aircraft.”

The 727th EACS set a goal for increased radar coverage to improve their current mission capabilities. Airmen began looking and coordinating with the host nation in January to find a suitable site able to support the TPS-75.

====

NATO Trains Finnish, Swedish Warplane Crews For Baltic Operations

http://www.aco.nato.int/nato-and-partner-air-forces-finish-training-for-safety-in-baltic-airspace.aspx

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations
March 29, 2012

NATO AND PARTNER AIR FORCES FINISH TRAINING FOR SAFETY IN BALTIC AIRSPACE

Šiauliai: The eleventh sequel of the Baltic Region Training Event (BRTE XI) was completed on 28 March when all assets involved in the event were safely back at their home bases. The two-day training event brought together German Phantom fighter aircraft and Swedish Gripen as well as Finnish Hornet jets in the Baltic region to execute a scenario where a Lithuanian Spartan transport aircraft simulated a loss of communication above international waters in the Baltic Sea.

“This has been another excellent occasion to train important procedures for NATO’s Air Policing in the Baltic region,” sums up Lieutenant Colonel Holger Radmann, commander of the German F-4F Phantom detachment tasked with executing this NATO mission at Šiauliai air base, Lithuania. “The participation of the Partnership for Peace (PfP) members Sweden and Finland was another realistic facet that allowed us to train handover procedures across national borders.”

For the representative of the Lithuanian host nation, Colonel Antanas Jucius, it has been a pleasure to host BRTE XI at Siauliai.

Colonel Jucius underlined the joint effort during the BRTE, where Germany provided the fighter aircraft, the Baltic countries ensured command and control and the Partner nations helped to bring back safely the aircraft that simulated the loss of communication. “We must train to be proficient in these procedures.”

====

U.S. Sells Morocco 60 Howitzers, Trains Army In Their Use

http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=7733&lang=0

U.S. Africa Command
March 26, 2012

U.S. Soldiers Observe Training at Moroccan Field Artillery Center
By Sergeant Terysa M. King
U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs

MOROCCO: In order to help improve the security of Morocco, 20 members of the 15th Royal Artillery Group purchased approximately 60 armored vehicles called M109A5 howitzers through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program.

At the request of the Royal Moroccan Field Artillery Training Center, an artillery tactics military-to-military exercise was executed in the cities of Fes and Guercie, March 4-10, 2012 to help provide the Moroccan soldiers with training on the maintenance, safety and firing of the M109A5 system.

The M109A5 howitzer is an armored vehicle that is easily customized for specific mission requirements. It is the most common support weapon of maneuver brigades of armored and mechanized infantry divisions.

====

Categories: Uncategorized

Afghanistan: The West’s Lost War

The News
March 30, 2011

The lost war
Ayaz Wazir*

====

We recently saw a horrifying example of the consistently bestial behaviour of American troops when 17 civilians, including women and children asleep in different houses, were woken up and butchered. There have been innumerable incidents of brutal killings of innocent civilians in the past as well but they were invariably swept under the carpet, after some inane US expression of regret, with the collusion of the government in Kabul which appeased relatives of the dead by sending them for Hajj, allocating houses in a posh area in Kandahar, or financial compensations.

A decade is a long-enough period of firing on mosques, wedding parties and funeral processions and riding roughshod over not just the bodies of innocent Afghans but also Afghan values and sensibilities.

====

Winning the war in Afghanistan was never an easy proposition. After the Americans’ decade-long stay in that country, discovery of a way out which is acceptable to the US is almost an impossibility. Nevertheless, the US seems bent upon proving all the negative indicators wrong.

The declared objective at the time of invasion of Afghanistan was the overthrow of the Taliban and destruction of Al-Qaeda. Bringing democracy was not part of the stated policy, nor was development despite the long stay ahead.

The real cause for this long-drawn-out war seems to be something other than the stated objectives. If that were not the case, US troops could have been withdrawn immediately after the Taliban’s removal from authority and Al-Qaeda’s defeat. On the contrary, the US is engaged in a war whose end is not within sight and the course uncertain. Many believe it in reality to be what President Bush once said, which was later covered up as a slip of the tongue—i.e., a “crusade.” Or, reportedly, as a “clash of civilizations, a clash of religions and a clash of the whole way of life.” Indications from across our western border certainly point in that direction.

While the Taliban have been dislodged from government they certainly are not defeated. Their resilience in fighting the war, and that too against the world’s sole superpower and its allies, has been tremendously effective and has worn out the occupying forces. In turn, in their frustration these forces have resorted to brutalities which can indisputably be called war crimes.

We recently saw a horrifying example of the consistently bestial behaviour of American troops when 17 civilians, including women and children asleep in different houses, were woken up and butchered. There have been innumerable incidents of brutal killings of innocent civilians in the past as well but they were invariably swept under the carpet, after some inane US expression of regret, with the collusion of the government in Kabul which appeased relatives of the dead by sending them for Hajj, allocating houses in a posh area in Kandahar, or financial compensations.

Such actions expose them thoroughly, bringing to the fore their hatred for Islam and the cultural values of the Afghans. Cutting off fingers of dead Taliban as trophies, urinating on corpses and killing innocent people in night raids in their homes are just a few incidents in a long list of atrocities committed by them. But the abhorrent incident at Bagram airbase when US soldiers burnt copies of the Holy Quran inflamed passions. The violent reaction that followed was but natural. Every Muslim worth the name would have reacted that way, to say nothing of the Afghans who have always upheld Islamic values above everything else. It also led to a security cleared Afghan worker, not a Taliban, losing control of himself and killing two American advisors in the ministry of interior whom he was supposed to protect. It was only after learning the lesson the hard way that the US made it mandatory for troops to undergo a short course to familiarise themselves with
the religious and cultural values of the Afghans.

Anti-American feelings over the burning of the Quran had barely cooled when the Kandahar killing of the 17 took place. This butchery has infuriated Afghans so much that they react against foreign troops whenever and wherever they can. The attack by a young Afghan interpreter at an airport in Helmand province last week is a case in point. He tried to run over and kill a top US commander, Maj Gen Mark Gurganus, with his vehicle last week. The general, along with his British deputy and other senior military officers, was at the air strip to greet visiting US secretary of defence, Leon Panetta. The Afghan, it is believed, was not aware of the expected arrival of Panetta. He would have caused a disaster had he crashed his speeding vehicle a few minutes later into the path of Panetta’s landing aircraft.

Such incidents, on the one hand, fuel concern about a surge in attacks on foreign troops and on the other lend support to the resistance of the Taliban whose movement has now turned into a national war for every Afghan, whether he admits that or not.

A decade is a long-enough period of firing on mosques, wedding parties and funeral processions and riding roughshod over not just the bodies of innocent Afghans but also Afghan values and sensibilities. During this period the Americans should have learnt to respect the religious and cultural values of their Afghan allies if they were really serious about winning their hearts and minds.

Another important lesson they should have learnt long ago but do not want to is to find a workable, durable and permanent solution to the problems in Afghanistan. They should have entered into serious negotiations with all the stakeholders by now, but the situation that exists is to the contrary. The Taliban have called off the dialogue process for which they had opened an office in Doha, Qatar. With Iran they are not on talking terms and with Pakistan their relations are at the lowest ebb. It is another matter that the government wants to restore them to the previous level, at least, by setting new rules of engagement with the US, while sheltering behind parliamentary action to this end.

In short, the war in Afghanistan has been lost and so is the case with their stay after 2014 in that country. The patience of the Afghan people is worn out and their anger mounting high. It will only be prudent for the US to give up on the military pursuit of resolving the problem there. It should concentrate on finding a political solution before it becomes a distant reality and they are forced to leave in haste and abandon Afghanistan like other great powers before them.

*The writer is a former ambassador.

Categories: Uncategorized

BRICS: No Foreign Intervention In Syria, No War Against Iran

March 29, 2012 1 comment

Voice of Russia
March 29, 2012

BRICS countries on Syria crisis
Polina Chernitsa

Russia has urged the BRICS Group of counties to render humanitarian assistance to Syria. A statement to this effect was made by President Dmitry Medvedev following the BRICS summit in New Delhi. All BRICS countries deem foreign interference in Syria as unacceptable.

The Syrian crisis topped the agenda of the BRICS summit. President Medvedev described the position of the BRICS countries on Syria as constructive and coordinated. Russia, India, China, Brazil and South Africa stand for further dialogue between parties to the Syrian conflict without intervention from outside, Medevedev said.

“The principles of normalization for Syria have all been made clear ever since Kofi Annan’s mission got down to work. There can be no foreign intervention in Syria. The Syrian government, on the one hand, and the opposition forces, on the other, should engage in dialogue. The government and the opposition in Syria should believe in dialogue rather than follow a short-sighted approach by saying that dialogue is doomed and that only military operations can restore order in the country. Russia will exert efforts to secure the success of the dialogue. The BRICS countries have swapped opinion on this issue and Russia has called on them to render humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people. Russia has already been providing Syria with relief supplies.”

President Medvedev said that the participants in the summit exchanged opinion on the situation surrounding the Iranian nuclear program and looked into the possibility of giving membership in the UN Security Council to India, Brazil, and South Africa. Medvedev said that Russia saw these countries as “strong candidates” and was ready to support them.

—————————————————————————-

Itar-Tass
March 29, 2012

BRICS states warn about terrible consequences of conflict in Iran

NEW DELHI: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa warn about the catastrophic aftermath if the situation around Iran escalates into a conflict.

In their declaration, the BRICS group of emerging market nations warned that if the situation grows into a conflict it will be in nobody’s interests.

BRICS leaders believe that Iran plays a key role in the peaceful development and prosperity of the region, which is very important politically and economically.

The BRICS leaders admitted their concern about the situation that develops around Iran’s nuclear program. They stressed that they recognize the right of Iran to peaceful uses of nuclear energy in line with its international commitments and UN Security Council resolutions, and favor the settlement of problems connected with that politically and diplomatically, as well as through a dialogue of the interested parties, including a dialogue between the IAEA and Iran.

—————————————————————————-

Interfax
March 29, 2012

Iran situation must not be allowed to turn into a conflict – BRICS leaders

DELHI: The situation around Iran must not be allowed to turn into a conflict, the leaders of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) said in a declaration.

This situation must be stopped from growing into a conflict, the catastrophic consequences of which will not meet anyone’s interests, they said.

Iran is bound to play a key role in promoting the peaceful development and prosperity of the region, which is increasingly important both politically and economically, the BRICS leaders said, expressing hope that Iran would play this role as a responsible member of the international community.

They also expressed concern over the situation surrounding the Iranian nuclear issue.

The BRICS states recognize Iran’s right to use civilian nuclear technology in accordance with its international obligations and want all of these problems to be resolved by political and diplomatic methods through dialogue involving all of the sides, among them the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran, in compliance with the UN Security Council’s appropriate resolutions, the declaration says.

—————————————————————————-

Itar-Tass
March 29, 2012

BRICS should be one of key elements of global management system

NEW DELHI: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said BRICS could be one of the key elements of the global management system.

“In the future our organisation can be one of the key elements of the global management system. Russia believes that BRICS should present itself as a new model of relations that are built without any stereotypes and constructions of ‘a bridge’ and a ‘mediator’,” Medvedev said at an expanded meeting on Thursday.

In his words, such approach towards uniting the states with the population of about three billion people will restrict its possibilities to pursue an independent and coordinating policy on the international arena.

—————————————————————————-

Xinhua News Agency
March 29, 2012

BRICS countries say Western countries’ monetary policy hurting emerging economies

NEW DELHI: The BRICS countries Thursday expressed concerns over the monetary policy pursued by the Western countries, saying it has been hurting the emerging economies of the world.

According to a draft declaration by the BRICS, aggressive monetary easing by Western central banks to revive growth in their economies is hurting emerging nations which are facing a rush of destabilizing capital inflows.

“Excessive liquidity because of the central bank actions has been spilling over into emerging economies, fostering excessive volatility in capital flows and commodity prices,” according to the document.

It also says that the BRICS group wants steps to avoid escalation of the Iran oil crisis and favored a diplomatic resolution to the problem.

Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the BRICS nations, are attending a one-day summit in the Indian capital.

—————————————————————————-

RT
March 29, 2012

BRICS agree to local currency credits to ease dollar dependency

The BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – have agreed to provide credit to each other in local currencies. Officials say the deal will facilitate economic growth in times of crisis.

The currency swap deal is aimed at promoting trade and investment in local currencies as well as to cut transaction costs. It’s also seen as a step to replace the dollar as a reserve currency in trade between BRICS.

“The idea is in line with many interests and economic exigencies in the world economy,” Yaroslav Lissovolik, the chief economist at Deutsche Bank told RT. “The euro and dollar are no longer seen as unquestionable monopolies in the role of reserve currencies. Clearly the world needs more reserve currencies.”

The deal would also increase the BRICS influence on the international arena and will make their cooperation less sensitive to sanctions from the West, experts say.

“The BRICS countries are in the first rank to do the job that international financial system now needs. What the BRICS said was a very welcomed wake up call,” John Kirton, the Co-Director of the BRICS Reasearch Group told RT.

Russia and China have been trading in the rouble and yuan for several years, now Russia plans to expand local currency settlement with India.

“With China it took us three years to (evolve) from initial conversations to trading in local currencies,” Vladimir Dmitriev, the chairman of Russia’ s VEB told reporters. “I think we will meet similar terms with India”.

Meanwhile the swap requires a lot of technical work by each country such as the synchronization of national banking legislation, according to Mr. Dmitriev.

The BRICS countries are also going to announce plans on a joint development bank which is considered a possible rival to the World Bank and the IMF. If established, it would function as a lending agency and would provide finance for joint BRICS projects.

“They made it very clear it would be built to benefit not only BRICS countries themselves, but developing countries more broadly,” said Kirton.

“But the big message was to give the World Bank more resources, only then would they see how the BRICS bank would fit in the supplement what they’ve already got.”

—————————————————————————-

Xinhua News Agency
March 29, 2012

Chinese, Russian presidents vow to lift bilateral ties to new level

NEW DELHI: Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Russian counterpart Dmitri Medvedev discussed bilateral ties and other issues of common concern here on Wednesday, agreeing to promote China-Russia relations to a new level.

During their meeting on the sidelines of the fourth BRICS Summit, which groups China, Brazile, India, Russia and South Africa, the two leaders agreed to make joint efforts to lift their all-round strategic cooperation partnership to a new level.

Hu said the two countries last year charted the course and set the goal for the development of the bilateral relationship in the next decade and developed a plan for cooperation in various fields.

The move had given fresh impetus to the development of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, Hu said.

Hu expressed hope that, in the current complex and ever-changing international situation, China and Russia could take a more active stance to implement major consensus on bilateral cooperation, maintain close high-level contacts and bolster political support for each other.

Meanwhile, efforts should be made to secure the smooth operation of various cooperation mechanisms to further advance collaboration on major projects covering such fields as trade, the economy, energy, aerospace, high-technology and culture, Hu said.

He said the two sides should jointly ensure the success of the Year of Tourism in each country and expand exchanges between their young people.

Medvedev said frequent high-level contacts and prompt exchange of views on bilateral ties and other major issues were of high importance in ensuring bilateral relations stayed on the right track.

He said Russia was ready to maintain regular exchanges of high-level visits and close communication.

Last year, two-way trade between the two countries hit a record high, he said, adding that energy cooperation on major oil and nuclear energy projects progressed smoothly.

Medvedev said Moscow was confident of meeting the goal of achieving 100 billion U.S. dollars in bilateral trade per year by 2015 and 200 billion dollars by 2020.

Categories: Uncategorized

Extraordinary Meeting: CSTO To Discuss NATO Missile Shield, Crisis In North Africa, Middle East, South Asia

Trend News Agency
March 29, 2012

Astana to host extraordinary meeting of CSTO Council of Foreign Ministers
E. Kosolapova

====

CSTO member-countries will…discuss approaches to the issue of the U.S. missile defense deployment in Europe.

[The meeting] is expected to assess the situation in connection with the worsening situation in the Middle East and North Africa (the events in Syria, the Iranian nuclear program, the situation in Pakistan, etc.)

====

Baku: The Kazakh city of Astana will host an extraordinary meeting of Collective Security Treaty Organization’s Council of foreign ministers on April 6, the organization reported. The meeting will be held under the chairmanship of Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov.

“The foreign ministers of the CSTO member states will discuss the draft agenda of the jubilee session of the Collective Security Council, which will be dedicated to the 20th anniversary of signing the Collective Security Treaty and the 10th anniversary of the Collective Security Treaty Organization,” CSTO said.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization is an intergovernmental military alliance of Post-Soviet countries. It was created in 1992. The CSTO members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The foreign ministers will discuss fundamental positions of CSTO member states on important global and regional security issues, collective measures to resolve them and the strengthening of allied solidarity in case of external threats.

CSTO member-countries will also discuss approaches to the issue of the U.S. missile defense deployment in Europe.

The meeting will be attended by CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha, who will report on the cooperation status and foreign policy objectives coordination of the organization’s member states.

Moreover, the Foreign Ministries will discuss interaction between the permanent representatives of CSTO members in international organizations and will plan for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the CSTO Secretariat and the UN Operations Department on peacekeeping.

CSTO member-countries will also discuss countering the growing threats and challenges from Afghanistan in connection with the transfer of responsibility for security to the country’s security forces. Moreover, it is expected to assess the situation in connection with the worsening situation in the Middle East and North Africa (the events in Syria, the Iranian nuclear program, the situation in Pakistan, etc.)

—————————————————————————-

Kazinform
March 29, 2012

CSTO foreign ministers to discuss international security in Astana

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Yerzhan Kazykhanov will chair an extraordinary meeting of the CSTO Council of Foreign Ministers on April 6 in Astana.

The foreign ministers will discuss the draft agenda of the jubilee session of the Collective Security Council, which will be dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Collective Security Treaty and the 10th anniversary of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. The meeting will be attended by CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha, press secretary of the organization Vladimir Zaynetdinov said.

The meeting will discuss issues relating to the fundamental positions of CSTO member states on important global and regional security issues and additional measures for collective cooperation in resolving them and the strengthening of allied solidarity in the presence of external threats.

The foreign ministers will consider the growing problem of countering threats and challenges emanating from Afghanistan in connection with the transfer of responsibility for the security of the country to the security forces of Afghanistan. Among them is the problem of strengthening the borders of Tajikistan, as well as the organization of the transit of goods for the International Security Assistance Force.

During the meeting, it is expected to assess the situation in connection with the worsening situation in the Middle East and North Africa (the events in Syria, the Iranian nuclear program, the situation in Pakistan, etc.)

The CSTO Secretary General will report on the status of cooperation and coordination of foreign policy objectives of the organization’s member states. The foreign ministers will outline the agreed-upon approaches to the issue of the placement of U.S. missile defenses in Europe and will consider a draft decision on a plan of consultation of representatives of CSTO member states on foreign policy in the second half of 2012 and the first half of 2013.

Categories: Uncategorized

Syria Shouldn’t Be Plunged Into Iraq-Style Catastrophe

March 29, 2012 1 comment

Xinhua News Agency
March 29, 2012

Not let Syria suffer Iraq-style bitterness
By Xu Ke

BEIJING: Arab and international leaders, having arrived in Baghdad for the Arab League (AL) summit Thursday, probably have seen a city recovering from nearly a decade of turbulence and a road with palm trees and green lawn along it from the airport to the venue.

The Iraqi government, suffering long-term violence and insurgence, has spent millions of U.S. dollars in preparing the city for the major Arab gathering, which will discuss the ongoing Syrian crisis.

Iraq, keen to host the summit, has hoped the event would show that the country is pulling out of years of turmoil and bloodshed.

However, what are behind the seemingly peaceful road are concrete barriers surrounding government buildings and neighborhoods and search missions conducted by security forces from door to door, which are aimed at ensuring a safe summit.

The scenes in Baghdad, which witnessed the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, showed the city is still far from a safe paradise.

According to the UN refugee agency, over 1.3 million Iraqis still remain internally displaced, unable to return to their areas of origin because of sectarian tensions.

The bitter experience of Iraq proved external military intervention caused years of violence and bloodshed instead of bringing peace and prosperity in Iraq, and similar interference is by no means a right solution to the chronic Syrian crisis.

Any abrupt external invasion may bring about a regime change in Syria but never a peaceful solution to sectarian and other disputes.

Moreover, external military interference breaches the principles of the UN Charter and norms governing international relations.

Syria shouldn’t be plunged into a bitter situation like Iraq.

Both the Syrian government and the opposition are called on to end their conflicts through dialogue and political settlement as quickly as possible.

Actually, positive signals of politically solving the crisis have emerged after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed to accept a peace plan put forward by the UN-AL joint envoy Kofi Annan, which calls for a national dialogue in Syria instead of forcefully deposing al-Assad.

On Wednesday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the AL summit would not urge President al-Assad to step down.

It is up to the people of Syria to decide, choose and elect their leaders, he said, stressing the AL or anybody else should not make the decision for the Syrian people.

Given the above-stated facts, it is crucial and imperative to solve the year-long Syrian crisis through peaceful talks and political coordination as early as possible.

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. Missile Shield Fosters Vicious Arms Race In Asia

March 29, 2012 1 comment

Global Times
March 29, 2012

US missile shield fosters Asian arms race

The US has announced that it is seeking to build a missile defense system in Asia and the Middle East, following a similar step in Europe.

This will no doubt create disturbance and tension in the region, as it has in Europe. Japan, South Korea and Australia, which are invited to join the system, must seriously ponder the consequences.

North Korea and Iran are named by Washington as the targets of the missile defense system, though it is clear the real targets are China and Russia. China should firmly oppose it.

This is not a fresh idea for the White House. The concept was raised during the Clinton administration. The impact it brings today is much worse than back then.

China needs to assess what long-term damage this system will impose on China’s strategic security. The system will be deployed on the soil of Japan, South Korea and Australia. It is widely agreed that China has little chance to stop it. The pessimistic view holds that China can do nothing about it.

But China can balance out the system’s impact. North Korea’s plan to launch a satellite next month has been used by Washington to install a missile defense system. It is a wise move. China can copy it and upgrade its nuclear weapon capability due to the possible threats posed by the US system. Specifically, China can improve its nuclear weapons in both quantity and quality as well as develop offensive nuclear-powered submarines. China’s ballistic missiles should be able to break the interception capability of the US system.

Among the nuclear powers, China has the smallest number of nuclear weapons. It is also the only country to make a ‘no first use’ commitment. Installing a missile defense system in Asia disrespects China’s nuclear policy.

The US is seeking to shift the regional balance. A strong response from China should be expected. An overarching missile defense system would force China to change its long-held nuclear policy.

If Japan, South Korea and Australia join the system, a vicious arms race in Asia may follow.

It is not what China wants to see, but it will have to deal with it if the arms race happens.

The US is creating waves in Asia. The region may see more conflicts intensify in the future. China should make utmost efforts to prevent it, but prepare for the worst.

Categories: Uncategorized

BRICS Nations Focus On Syria And Iran

The Hindu
March 29, 2012

BRICS to focus on Syria, Iran today
Sandeep Dikshit

Russia, China against any bid to put the five nations under threat of intervention

====

“We are worried at the U.S. and Israeli threats to use force against that country. A new war in the region, already overburdened with armed conflicts and acute crises, will rapidly deteriorate the situation in the vast Asian region, will entail shocks in the oil markets and, therefore, in the entire global economy,” [Russian Ambassador Alexander Kadakin] said.

====

On Thursday morning, the strategic community around the world will be focussed on the outcome of the hour-long restricted meeting between the heads of government of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) to see if they can forge an effective and common approach to the problems facing Syria and Iran.

Russia and China have made it clear that they will press for opposing any West-led attempt to put these countries under the threat of intervention. But the stand of the other three BRICS members will have to be reconciled with that of Russia and China. India opposes foreign military intervention in principle but has broken ranks with the two by opting to vote with the West on Syria.

South Africa has tended to succumb to hustling by the West as happened last year when it was in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and inclined to side with other BRICS countries on Libya. But sustained pressure from the West ensured that South Africa, along with Nigeria, the other African nation in the UNSC at that time, supported the West.

On Iran, the West is pressuring both China and India on reducing oil imports from Tehran at a time when they are in no position to do so because of mounting energy needs. But a common position on Iran will be easier to formulate after the BRICS Trade Ministers’ statement on the summit eve.

The Ministers were tactful but left no doubt where their collective sympathies lay. “We respect U.N. resolutions…at the same time the U.N. resolution does not forbid countries to engage in trade in essential commodities and what is required for human good…Therefore, we look at things…in a very pragmatic manner and remain within the ambit of the U.N. resolution,” said Commerce Minister Anand Sharma.

But on Syria, China which describes BRICS as on the way to becoming “a major power in the process of solutions to the world’s political problems,” is reconciled to the leaders not concurring in entirety.

Speaking to journalists in Beijing last week, Li Kexin, Foreign Ministry’s senior negotiator for BRICS, admitted that while the five nations wanted a peaceful Middle East, they can have different ideas on specific approaches. “It doesn’t matter. This is not a formal UNSC resolution. We will be trying to find a common political ground on the Syrian issue,” added Mr. Li.

Both Syria and Iran assume importance even though they are essentially topical issues because it was only at the last summit that BRICS introduced a political element by commenting on Libya.

While India has officially not said anything on its approach to Syria at the BRICS summit, Russia has expressed concern over “foreign interference” in domestic affairs of sovereign countries. Like China, it downplays its differences of approach with India.

“It is a sovereign decision of India and we respect that. But we vetoed [the Syria resolution in the UNSC] because we oppose outside imposition on any sovereign country,” said Russian Ambassador Alexander Kadakin.

“We are worried at the U.S. and Israeli threats to use force against that country. A new war in the region, already overburdened with armed conflicts and acute crises, will rapidly deteriorate the situation in the vast Asian region, will entail shocks in the oil markets and, therefore, in the entire global economy,” he said.

The BRICS summit is expected to sign two enabling agreements on setting up a development bank and local credit facility.

“Two agreements would be signed during the summit. These emanate from decisions taken in Brasilia. These are framework agreements arrived after banks of all five countries met twice. These are enabling agreements subject to national laws,” said Sudhir Vyas, Secretary (ER) in the Ministry of External Affairs.

Categories: Uncategorized

World’s Sole Military Superpower Ignores Own Human Rights Violations

March 29, 2012 1 comment

The Citizen
March 26, 2012

US turns blind eye on own violation of human rights 
Eric Sommer

====

US military forces have been responsible for thousands, possibly millions, of civilian deaths around the world in the past decade.

The US military, supported by the US government, defines its goal as “full spectrum” – that is global land, sea and air and indeed space – military dominance. In support of this goal, the US military is deployed in more than 150 countries and according to an official Pentagon accounting of US military bases, the Base Structure Report, Fiscal 2010 Baseline the US has at least 662 overseas bases in 38 foreign countries, although the figure is more because the list excludes bases in several nations integral to active operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

====

US media and political figures constantly attack China for alleged human rights violations, while conveniently turning a blind eye to human rights violations perpetrated by the United States in the name of its war on terror, for instance the use of torture at Abu Ghraib, the illegal detention of suspects at Guantanamo, the apprehension and extrajudicial transfer of individuals from one state to another, and the unauthorised surveillance of citizens are just some of the US’ well-documented human rights abuses.

And as important as rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of religion may be, these rights pale in significance beside the most fundamental of human rights, which is the right to live, with its corollary of security from actions or conditions which threaten life, such as military aggression, criminal acts, or similar threats that put people’s lives at risk.

With this in mind let’s compare China and the US, to see who is the real human rights violator.

US military forces have been responsible for thousands, possibly millions, of civilian deaths around the world in the past decade. While there are no accurate figures for the civilian death toll in Iraq, household surveys have been conducted asking Iraqis to list the family members they have lost and the results then extrapolated to the total population to give a nationwide estimate.

The prominent British medical journal, the Lancet, ran into a storm of controversy when it published an article by researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore which extrapolated the results of a survey of a randomly chosen sample of 1,849 households to the total Iraqi population and estimated that there were 655,000 deaths between April 2003 and June 2006.

Yet in 2007, the British polling firm Opinion Research Business surveyed 1,720 Iraqi adults and extrapolated a figure that was even higher – a “minimum of 733,158 to a maximum of 1,446,063″ – Iraqi civilaians killed.

The independent UK-based research group, the Iraq Body Count, which only counts civilan deaths where there is documentary evidence, such as cross-checked media reports, hospital, and morgue records – which is likely to be the minority seeing as so few bodies are recovered – has a minimum civilian death toll of 105,753.

Nor is there a single figure for the overall number of civilians killed by the 10-year war in Afghanistan, but according to the latest report from the United Nations, 12,793 have been killed in just the past six years.

And these figures do not include those that have been injured in the two wars, nor those killed or injured by the US military in Pakistan and Libya.

The US military, supported by the US government, defines its goal as “full spectrum” – that is global land, sea and air and indeed space – military dominance. In support of this goal, the US military is deployed in more than 150 countries and according to an official Pentagon accounting of US military bases, the Base Structure Report, Fiscal 2010 Baseline the US has at least 662 overseas bases in 38 foreign countries, although the figure is more because the list excludes bases in several nations integral to active operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Chinese government has emphasized that the Chinese military’s role is strictly defensive: protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity and peaceful economic development. China adheres to a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, and during the same period it has had no military conflicts with other countries.

It also has no military bases in other countries. The US’ rate of imprisonment is the highest in the world: about 760 out of every 100,000 US citizens are in jail. China, with a population very nearly four times as big, has a rate of imprisonment that is one-seventh that of the US, about 118 out of every 100,000 of its citizens are in jail.

In the US there is unofficial media censorship by the central government, which seeks control over news content relating to its military operations.

Mr Somer, a Canadian independent researcher, filed this analysis for Xinhua from Beijing.

Categories: Uncategorized

Pakistan Must Stand Firm Against NATO

The News
March 29, 2012

Pakistan needs to take control
By Rahimullah Yusufzai

====

Having been described as an unreliable partner, Pakistan is unlikely to regain the trust of the US and its allies by any amount of appeasement. Therefore, it would be better to continue the ban on Nato supplies in line with the aspirations of most Pakistanis instead of lifting it and risking resumption of the campaign of attacks by militants on the supply vehicles and more bloodshed.

While the strategic partnership with China has been pursued by every government in Pakistan, the wish to strengthen ties with Russia and earlier with the USSR couldn’t materialise. Half-hearted efforts were made in the past to make this happen, though India’s growing friendship with the US has opened a window of opportunity for Pakistan to win Russia’s trust and strengthen its relations with it by using forums such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

====

Tough-talking politicians are at it again as parliament prepares to debate the guidelines set forth by the all-party Parliamentary Committee on National Security for the revised terms of engagement with the US, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) and the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).

Those on the treasury benches have been assuring that the parliament’s decisions would be honoured even though their track record on this score is far from reassuring. The government policy to date has been to go along with the opposition to ensure the passage of unanimous resolutions in parliament and then forget about it. And the politicians on the opposition benches are declaring that they would not let the government hijack the parliament to rubber-stamp decisions that serve its own interests instead of those of all the stakeholders.

In view of its past performance, the opposition also doesn’t inspire hope, as it failed to put enough pressure to seek implementation of previous resolutions of parliament with regard to the relations and cooperation with the US in pursuing the objectives of the so-called ‘war on terror.’

The parliament’s debate on the 16-member parliamentary committee’s 40 recommendations has been delayed twice, first to give time to the legislators to study the report, which is only eight pages and could be studied fairly quickly, and then due to the opposition’s demand that the far more pressing issue of power outages be discussed before anything else.

It was obvious nobody was in a hurry to discuss the recommendations that the Senator Raza Rabbani-led committee had finalised by January 11. The incident that prompted the government and parliament to review ties with the US took place four months ago in Mohmand Agency at Salala on the border with Afghanistan on the night of November 25-26. That was a while ago and the US has been waiting rather impatiently for the parliamentary committee to come up with its recommendations.

It is another matter if the US government through its own sources already knew the recommendations.

Some opposition figures even alleged that the committee’s confidential report had reached the US embassy before it was tabled in parliament. True or false, this explains the difficulties in having a transparent relationship with the US owing to the strong belief in Pakistan that the Americans have scores of people working for them in every Pakistani institution. The distrust between the two sides is so deep that every move is looked at with suspicion.

Apart from demanding an end to the US drone strikes and seeking an apology for the Salala incident, both of which may not happen the way Pakistan would want, the most important issue that got greater consideration in the parliamentary committee’s guidelines pertained to the supplies passing through Pakistan for Nato forces in Afghanistan. The term used is “reopening” of Nato supply routes, which betrays the understanding among the committee members that the ban imposed by Pakistan on November 26 last year would be eventually lifted. This is reinforced by the proposal that 50 percent of the containers transporting Nato supplies may be handled by the ailing Pakistan Railways and that all the goods should be taxed.

The ruling coalition, guided by the foreign ministry and perhaps also the military, appears keen to reopen the Nato supply routes after revision of the terms and conditions. Getting it approved from parliament won’t be a problem as the PPP-led government’s majority in parliament has increased after the recent Senate polls.

It seems not much consideration is being given to the possibility of a rise in attacks on Nato supply vehicles in case the ban is lifted and the increased polarisation in the country. Pakistan has already angered the US by banning Nato supplies and reopening the route won’t impress it much as the Americans have made alternate arrangements through the Northern Distribution Network via Russia and its neighbours even if those routes are six times costlier.

Having been described as an unreliable partner, Pakistan is unlikely to regain the trust of the US and its allies by any amount of appeasement. Therefore, it would be better to continue the ban on Nato supplies in line with the aspirations of most Pakistanis instead of lifting it and risking resumption of the campaign of attacks by militants on the supply vehicles and more bloodshed.

Regarding the recommendations, various analysts have pointed out certain shortcomings. Some felt the guidelines were short-term and military-oriented and won’t be valid beyond 2014 when the Nato forces would have withdrawn from Afghanistan. However, there may not be complete withdrawal as the US is negotiating a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan to be able to deploy several thousand American troops for counter-terrorism operations and training of Afghan security forces beyond 2014 at four or five military airbases.

In case of continued presence of US forces in Afghanistan, there would be no political settlement involving the Taliban, who won’t give up fighting. This in turn would mean a destabilised Afghanistan with Pakistan being blamed for the lack of success of the US military strategy against the Taliban and other resistance groups.

The recommendations made no reference to certain vital challenges facing Pakistan for which it needs cooperation from the US and its allies. These include creation of jobs, improvements in the education, energy and water sectors, rebuilding of infrastructure damaged due to militancy and military operations and floods and transfer of technology. The stress in the parliamentary document is on security and terrorism issues, thereby reinforcing the US standpoint of focusing on its one-dimensional relationship with Pakistan by seeking its help in fighting Al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked militants.

The recommendations have been hailed for proposing deepening the strategic partnership with China, strengthening the relationship with Russia, actively pursuing the gas pipeline project with Iran, and continuing the dialogue with India, including efforts for the solution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions.

While the strategic partnership with China has been pursued by every government in Pakistan, the wish to strengthen ties with Russia and earlier with the USSR couldn’t materialise. Half-hearted efforts were made in the past to make this happen, though India’s growing friendship with the US has opened a window of opportunity for Pakistan to win Russia’s trust and strengthen its relations with it by using forums such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

The recommendation for actively pursuing the gas pipeline project with Iran is important as support from the parliament would strengthen the government’s hands to deflect US pressure on the issue. Friendly relations with neighbouring Iran ought to be a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy and no amount of US pressure should dissuade Islamabad from honouring its agreement with Tehran to meet the rising gas demand at home.

…The lack of reference to Japan and certain other developed countries in the recommendations has also been pinpointed, though the primary task of the parliamentary committee was to provide the guidelines for ‘resetting’ the uncertain relations with the US in the backdrop of three major incidents last year including the Salala airstrikes by Nato forces killing 24 Pakistani soldiers, the CIA operative Raymond Davis affair after he shot dead two Pakistanis in Lahore and the raid by US commandoes to kill Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2.

Moreover, these are guidelines for revised terms of engagements with the US that could be debated, altered, reinforced and even rejected by parliament. It is up to the parliamentarians to firm up doable and realistic recommendations in line with the aspirations of the people of Pakistan and take ownership of the country’s foreign policy, in particular the emotional issue of the relationship with the US.

The writer is resident editor of The News in Peshawar.

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. Trojan Horse In Pakistan

The Nation
March 28, 2012

US Trojan horse
By S M Hali

====

[T]he matter gains ominous proportions because the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) has recently undergone the exercise of reviewing the terms of engagement with Washington, following the Nato attack on two Pakistani checkposts on November 26 in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed. The PCNS has recommended that the US should review its footprints in Pakistan and there should be transparency on the number and presence of foreign intelligence operatives in Pakistan.

[A] senior Pakistani official is mentioned quoting a reasonably reliable source who said: “There are about 15,000 marines in the capital.” If true, this is a very perilous development, since the massive figure of 15,000 is tantamount to division strength and would prove to be detrimental to Pakistan’s sovereignty.

====

Under the garb of expanding the embassy’s premises, according to media reports, the US diplomatic mission in Islamabad has raised the hackles of city fathers by planning to increase the elevation of its complex. Those in charge of Pakistan’s security have observed that if this happens, the US will be able to keep an eye on all important buildings in its vicinity in the federal capital. These include the presidency, the Prime Minister’s residence and secretariat, Parliament and even the headquarters of Pakistan’s premier security agency, the ISI.

The concerned quarters have, reportedly, raised the matter with the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to ask the US mission to limit the elevation of the complex to four, rather than seven storeys. Although a vigilant watch is being maintained over Islamabad through satellite and other aerial platforms, a permanent view from the rooftop of the new complex would be more ominous and round the clock.

The mission had the blueprint of its proposed construction approved on January 16, 2012, by a committee comprising CDA officials, representatives of the Planning Emergency and Disaster Management, and members nominated by the Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners. The surprising aspect is that the committee, responsible for analysing the architectural and structural aspects of the project, appreciated the energy-efficient design with the facilities of rainwater harvesting and sewage treatment plant, but failed to see through the ploy of placing a virtual Trojan horse in the midst of the metropolis.

More so, the matter gains ominous proportions because the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) has recently undergone the exercise of reviewing the terms of engagement with Washington, following the Nato attack on two Pakistani checkposts on November 26 in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed. The PCNS has recommended that the US should review its footprints in Pakistan and there should be transparency on the number and presence of foreign intelligence operatives in Pakistan. If there is credence in Ahmed Rashid’s latest book, Pakistan on the Brink, in which he says that President Barack Obama had approved Leon Panetta’s plan to create a Pakistan-specific CIA hidden from the eyes of the ISI, then the situation is grave!

According to the Washington Post, the US mission in Islamabad already houses the largest CIA contingent in the world, and now it is being expanded without the Foreign Ministry’s approval or input from the intelligence agencies. Needless to say that the Raymond and Osama episodes have already dealt a severe blow to the USA’s credibility in Pakistan and raised serious concerns.

Anyway, the plot thickens further since the US is withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, on the one hand, but furtively expanding its presence in Pakistan, on the other. Indeed, enhanced drone strikes and the massive footprint of US military presence in Islamabad, spell danger for Pakistan’s sovereignty. According to an article, entitled “US overtures and Pakistan’s stand,” a senior Pakistani official is mentioned quoting a reasonably reliable source who said: “There are about 15,000 marines in the capital.” If true, this is a very perilous development, since the massive figure of 15,000 is tantamount to division strength and would prove to be detrimental to Pakistan’s sovereignty.

If that were not enough, The Nation’s story of March 23 captioned “US setting up for Pak sneak-in,” reveals that the Americans have already acquired more than 400 houses in Islamabad, where their agents, contractors and marines have been living. In some of these houses, according to sources, even ammunition is being kept. Reportedly, they are trying to shift their Lahore Consulate, which is presently located very close to the Governor’s House, to Johar Town. However, the Foreign Office and intelligence agencies have refused the request so far.

It is high time that the Foreign Office of Pakistan takes the bull by the horns and ensures that the building of the US diplomatic mission is limited to four storeys, and that CIA personnel and marines should seek formal clearance by the Foreign Office and intelligence agencies before entering the country. Pakistan’s sovereignty must be respected at all costs!
   
The writer is a political and defence analyst.

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. Gears Up For Land Operation In Persian Gulf

March 28, 2012 1 comment

RT
March 28, 2012

US gears up for land operation in Persian Gulf?

 

 Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group

 

The US is sending an amphibious assault group and a couple of thousand US Marines to the Persian Gulf. With another US carrier making its way to Iran’s doorstep, US military still insist that this is a “regularly scheduled deployment”.

­The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group is comprised of amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima, amphibious transport dock USS New York, and amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall. It is also reinforced with an atomic submarine and a marine helicopter squadron.

The group, which is “a versatile sea-based force that can be tailored to a variety of missions,” left port on Tuesday and is heading to the Gulf, the US Navy says.

Over 2,000 US Marines are to come on board Iwo Jima when the group makes a stop in North Carolina.
Many of those marines are veterans of ground combat in Iraq and Afghanistan making their first shipboard deployment, dailypress.com points out.

The US already has an amphibious group with an expeditionary marine unit in the Gulf region. The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group was deployed there in January, after Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial route that allows the delivery of around 20 per cent of the world’s oil.

Iran has repeatedly reiterated this threat over the last six month, while the US and its NATO partners kept increasing their naval presence in the region.

The US is aware that Iran has enough resources to mine the strait within a relatively short period of time. General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said earlier that the US must be prepared to reopen the Strait of Hormuz by force.

In March, the US sent another four minesweepers to join those already deployed there, bringing the overall number in the region to eight.

Two US aircraft carrier battle groups, headed by the USS Carl Vinson and USS Abraham Lincoln, are patrolling the waters around the strait. Another carrier, USS Enterprise, is expected to join them next month.

Although many US officials, including President Obama, still insist on using diplomacy and sanctions, they admit that “all options are on the table” to force Iran to drop its nuclear program.

Meanwhile, Israel – the closest US ally in the region – considers nuclear Iran to be “an existential threat,” which needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. Last week, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak, spoke of a three-month deadline for Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions or face imminent attack.

Categories: Uncategorized

UN Silence: NATO’s Killing Of Civilians And The Future Of Nations

Asian Tribune
March 28, 2012

Silence of UN, NATO’s killing of civilians and future of nations
By Shenali Waduge

====

In Yugoslavia, NATO targeted the civilian economy: airports, government buildings, manufacturing infrastructure, ancient buildings and the country’s historical and cultural heritage. In Libya, NATO’s targets were bridges, roads, hospitals, tv stations, factories, schools and even hospitals.

It is estimated that the civilian deaths in Libya as a result of NATO air strikes amount to over 30,000. Will these ever be investigated is the biggest question.

The US and NATO mission became complete with the killing of Gaddafi on 20th October 2011 – a death these nations should feel ashamed of.

This shame is heightened by the fact that a white flag truce was negotiated for Gaddafi with Hillary Clinton. It has also been reported that journalists were not immediately allowed to report from the site of the US drone attack on Qaddafi’s convoy until the rebels had the opportunity to dispose of any remaining evidence of the white flags which were clearly connected to the convoy vehicles.

Did we not say that these military interventionists would remain unscathed to continue their next targets – Syria and Iran…and now it appears the next sojourn is Asia…

====

Libya extends over 1,759,540 square kilometres (679,362 sq mi) and is home to 6.4 million people. On 17 March 2011, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1973 on Libya proposed by France, Lebanon and the UK. Regime change in Iraq took eight years and a trillion dollars, the liberating of Libya took just seven months but NATO is accused of thousands of civilian deaths which they refuse to admit or compensate.

Are we looking at a future of military interventions by powerful nations (international gangsters) that falsely create the ground situations in these targeted countries and then officially obtain a mandate to militarily intervene?

What makes the death of Gaddafi and the fall of a sovereign nation alarming is that none of these uprisings were natural events but have been “planted” to facilitate and promote the need for a military intervention. Thus, the UN clauses are worded in such a way as to permit varied interpretations and by the time the world realizes the truth the damage has already been done and the leaders all silenced forever.

…Libya…functioned without a single loan from the IMF or World Bank and its central bank was 100% owned by the Libyan government. In short, Libya was a debt-free nation under Gaddafi. In 1951 Libya was the poorest country in the world. Before the US/NATO invaded Libya it had the highest standard of living in Africa and a literacy rate of 83%. It was also called the Switzerland of the African continent. One of the first things the “rebels” have done is to change the Libyan central bank to a Western-type one. We can now assume who the real instigators of these military interventions are. Ironically, global leaders are merely tools themselves!

How did these “rebels” suddenly emerge? Were they really Libyans or hired mercenaries and would they have achieved the success they did if not for NATO air strikes? These questions are important because the US and the West openly declared they were arming the rebels. International laws do not permit a military intervention to remove a man from power. But who is there to stop such a state of affairs happening when even international media owned by the West were distorting every incident taking place in Libya?

Western media are far more dangerous than even politicians because it is their news that we “trust”. Did any of these Western channels relay how on 1st July 1.7m (95% of Tripoli population and 1/3 the entire population of Libya) people gathered in Tripoli to oppose the NATO bombing of Libya? Libya and Gaddafi were pretty much taken by shock at the magnitude of the assault and the nature of the attack.

The media continuously relayed various reasons to attack Libya – from the potential of a massacre by Gaddafi to liberating the people from a dictator to the memories of Lockerbie. How many of us know that the US paid $4m to each witness to testify against the accused Libyan men? Most of the real truths come out only much later. On 18 March 2011 Gaddafi did announce a ceasefire but NATO began its military intervention the next day, 19 March 2011.

Why did the West decide to topple Gaddafi, having watched him be a “dictator” for 42 years? A popular view is Gaddafi’s plan to conduct oil transactions in gold instead of the dollar. Libya has over 140 tons of gold. Gaddafi’s proposal to nationalize Libya’s oil did not stick too well with the West either. Guatemala’s decision to nationalize fruit processing resulted in a US coup. Libya’s invasion was sponsored by the West by arming Libyan “rebels” most believe to be al-Qaeda radicals transported to carry out the plan. So if it had been a plan it had to have been thought out by the same set of people that planned other invasions.

War & Decision, a book by Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy, reveals that former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent a paper to the US president in 2001 on establishing “new regimes’. This is further confirmed in a book in 2003 by General Wesley Clark who commanded the NATO bombing of Kosovo, that Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz had included Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Lebanon among those targeted for “new regimes”. That list is now complete except for Syria and Iran. What should worry us is the likelihood of these two states also eventually falling.

The other theory is that both Gaddafi and Saddam fell because they challenged the dollar and Western banks. Gaddafi wanted to unite the African continent with over a billion people using a single currency. Libya’s Central Bank is 100% state-owned, allowing Libya to create its own money. To do business with Libya, investors had to go through the Libyan Central Bank, giving them no means to monopolize deals. Libya had $150 billion in foreign reserves which are now frozen. Gaddafi had even contributed €50m to Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential election fund.

NATO air strikes have created such colossal damage to both people and infrastructure that even the International Criminal Court head voiced the possibility of investigating NATO for war crimes. This was in November 2011 – four months on there is no mention of that happening. NATO used 26,000 sorties and 9,600 strike missions against 5,900 targets – what were these and how many of them fell upon civilians?

Let’s look at some key events:

• February 15, 2011 – uprising in Libya against President Gaddafi

• February 22, 2011 – UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay claims 250 people had been “killed” in Libya…she claims there is “widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population” which may amount to “crimes against humanity”. Thus the mood was created that Gaddafi forces were indiscriminately killing and giving a picture that a Rwanda type situation is likely to arise.

• March 18, 2011 – UN Security Council authorizes action against Libya. Quotes from the Resolution – these wordings are often repeated:

• “grave concern at the deteriorating situation, the escalation of violence, and the heavy civilian casualties”

• “the gross and systematic violation of human rights, including arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and summary executions”

• attacks against civilians “may amount to crimes against humanity”

• pose a “threat to international peace and security”.

• “a group of up to eight experts” to oversee the implementation of the resolution

In Yugoslavia, NATO targeted the civilian economy: airports, government buildings, manufacturing infrastructure, ancient buildings and the country’s historical and cultural heritage. In Libya, NATO’s targets were bridges, roads, hospitals, tv stations, factories, schools and even hospitals.

It is estimated that the civilian deaths in Libya as a result of NATO air strikes amount to over 30,000. Will these ever be investigated is the biggest question.

A few of NATO’s civilian targets (NATO aircraft flew a total of 17,939 armed sorties in Libya):

• March 25, 2011 – Al-Tajura Hospital was hit as was Saladin Hospital in Ain Zara.

• April 18, 2011 telecommunications tower in the city of Sirte

• 30 April 2011 NATO air strikes hit Libyan Down’s Syndrome Society

• June 12, 2011 Libya’s Nasser University bombed by NATO

• July 18, 2011 the radar tower at Tripoli International Airport was bombed by NATO

• July 22, 2011 NATO warplanes attacked the pipe making plant at Brega

• July 23, 2011 a facility that makes pipes for the Great Man-Made River was bombed (world’s largest irrigation project, known as the Great Man-Made River project, to make water readily available throughout the desert country)

• July 25, 2011 a hospital in Zliten, near the city of Misrata, was also bombed by NATO warplanes

• July 26, 2011 NATO bombs a hospital in West Libya, killing civilians & damaging food supply depot and a medical depot

Libyan children killed by NATO bombs

Cluster bombs used by NATO

The US and NATO mission became complete with the killing of Gaddafi on 20th October 2011 – a death these nations should feel ashamed of.

This shame is heightened by the fact that a white flag truce was negotiated for Gaddafi with Hillary Clinton. It has also been reported that journalists were not immediately allowed to report from the site of the US drone attack on Qaddafi’s convoy until the rebels had the opportunity to dispose of any remaining evidence of the white flags which were clearly connected to the convoy vehicles.

Did Secretary Clinton use this information to prepare a US drone attack on Qaddafi’s “white flag” convoy since she was in Libya on 19th March 2011, the day before Gaddafi was killed? If Secretary Clinton and the US administration were aware of a white flag truce, then the US drone attack on Gaddafi’s convoy was in direct violation of the Geneva Convention and constitutes a war crime as the US drone attack enabled rebels to sodomize Gaddafi before killing him.

None of these truths will have any bearing on any of these powerful nations so long as people remain silent and watch crimes against humanity take place. The UN Human Rights Council did appoint an investigation that concluded that NATO “conducted a highly precise campaign with a demonstrable determination to avoid civilian casualties. On limited occasions, the Commission confirmed civilian casualties and found targets that showed no evidence of military utility”.

Thus, the Commission found NATO did not deliberately target civilians in Libya.

Did we not say that these military interventionists would remain unscathed to continue their next targets – Syria and Iran…and now it appears the next sojourn is Asia where the resolution against Sri Lanka’s has been the FIRST such resolution against a country where a conflict has been concluded and a country that has been enjoying peace without bombs or terrorists for three years! Generally resolutions are related to “Ongoing Conflict Situations,” thus the US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka is a precedent and that is what other countries need to be mindful of. India was aware of this and that is why India should not have been party to agreeing to the resolution.

How far will these Western imperialists decide to go back to use for the future resolutions upon other Asian countries is the next question…India should also be worried, but then India thinks it is a friend of the West and does not need Asian friends any more.

It is time UN member nations unite to oppose this new world order that is taking shape.

Categories: Uncategorized

Why NATO Will Stay In Afghanistan

Russia Beyond the Headlines
March 27, 2012

NATO in Afghanistan: Do they stay or do they go?
Andrei Ilyashenko

====

“The Americans…want to retain their bases in order to shore up their influence in Central Asia and on the Caspian, where oil and gas resources are plentiful. In addition, the bases in Afghanistan make it possible to keep China, Russia and Iran at bay. In other words, there are economic and geostrategic reasons and the U.S. will not easily surrender the Karzai regime to the Taliban.”

====

Although the US has announced withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan in 2014, it seems as though they are there to stay. What their status and rights will be and, most importantly, the reasons they will be staying are increasingly questions of concern for Afghanistan’s neighbors: Russia, China and the countries of Central Asia.

An agreement on strategic cooperation between Washington and Kabul is to be signed shortly before or on the fringes of the NATO summit in Chicago in May, according to an announcement made by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on March 22 after her talks with the Afghan foreign minister. The agreement should, on the one hand, allow the U.S. to withdraw from the longest war in its history without much loss of face. For U.S. President Barack Obama, this is particularly important on the eve of the U.S. presidential elections. The U.S. has lost 2,000 soldiers and $500 billion in Afghanistan and the counters are still rolling.

But saving face is not an easy task. There is no question of a victory and, in drawing up the agreement with Kabul, the U.S. has entered into official negotiations with the Afghan Taliban. In spite of 11 years of occupation, the influence of the Taliban outside Kabul itself is considerable, and President Hamid Karzai’s regime may collapse the day after the Americans withdraw. So the agreement on strategic cooperation between the U.S. and Afghanistan will probably envision some American military facilities remaining there.

“Karzai would like the bases to remain, as he wants to stay in power beyond 2014, and so does the Loya Jirga [the council of Afghan national and tribal representatives]. The Americans themselves want to retain their bases in order to shore up their influence in Central Asia and on the Caspian, where oil and gas resources are plentiful. In addition, the bases in Afghanistan make it possible to keep China, Russia and Iran at bay. In other words, there are economic and geostrategic reasons and the U.S. will not easily surrender the Karzai regime to the Taliban,” wrote Viktor Korgun, head of the Afghanistan Center at the Oriental Studies Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The issue of bases seems to be settled, which is beginning to worry Russia. Moscow has proposed that the UN maintain control over the foreign troops in Afghanistan after the NATO force withdraws in 2014. This week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov touched on the topic at least twice. “If military presence in the country has to be preserved, then fulfillment of the Security Council mandate must continue. If somebody does not want to fulfill the mandate, believing that they have already done so, but intends to deploy and preserve military bases, this is not logical. I also believe that the territory of Afghanistan must not be used to create any military facilities that might concern third countries,” he said in an interview with Afghan TV channel TOLO.

In a nutshell, Moscow’s position is that, if the U.S. maintains its military presence in Afghanistan, it should get a mandate for this from the UN in the shape of a Security Council resolution, which, incidentally, would have to assess what has been accomplished in Afghanistan during the 11 years of war. Viktor Korgun said: “NATO presence deters terrorism in the region and Russia is not interested in early U.S. or NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan. The police functions must be carried out, especially since there is a UN mandate for this. But we are not interested in NATO staying in the region as a military force.”

The format and scale of continued U.S. and NATO military presence will apparently be determined at the Chicago NATO summit, which will be devoted to Afghanistan. Yet the status of these troops is unlikely to please the neighboring countries. “We are interested in a neutral Afghanistan,” said Lavrov. But in reality, NATO will move a step closer to Russia’s borders, which might cause more friction.

Categories: Uncategorized

Vietnam-Style Debacle As Afghan Troops Target NATO Too

Pakistan Observer
March 28, 2012

Afghan soldiers too rise against NATO

We had warned occupation forces in Afghanistan that incidents like the killing of NATO troops by personnel of the Afghan National Army and police would increase in the days to come, and the latest attack in southern Afghanistan bears testimony to this apprehension. According to reports, a man in an Afghan army uniform shot dead two soldiers with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on Monday. The attacker was also killed when the occupation forces returned fire.

There are two main reasons for these surging incidents of killing of foreign troops at the hands of their local counterparts: the growing frustration of the Afghan people over the prolonged occupation of their country and the trampling of local norms and traditions and the injuring of the sensitivities of the people.

Strangely enough, instead of acknowledging the ground reality, the United States and its partners always try to link individuals carrying out such acts in one way or the other with Pakistan. It was perhaps against this background that international media reports said at the instance of the United States that the government in Kabul has issued directions to all those soldiers whose families are residing in Pakistan because of the security environment in Afghanistan to move their families to their homeland or they would be dismissed from service.

The only problem in Afghanistan is foreign occupation of a sovereign country and th daily killing of innocent people by them and the problem will remain there until and unless foreign forces withdraw.

History tells us that Afghans never compromised on the sovereignty issue and that is why the resistance movement, dubbed by the West as a Taliban movement, is getting more and more support with the passage of time.

Foreign occupation of Afghanistan has not only ruined the lives of the Afghan people but also created problems for the entire region, especially for Pakistan that is directly affected by developments in Afghanistan.

Therefore, the coalition forces should prioritise their exit strategy as it has already become a Vietnam for them.

Categories: Uncategorized

Stop NATO news: March 28, 2012

====

Pentagon Expands Global Missile Shield To Asia, Middle East

“Milestone In Global Missile Defense”: Raytheon Tests New Patriot

U.S., Canadian, Mexican Defense Chiefs In Unprecedented Meeting

Russia Concerned Over Washington’s Plans To Ship Arms To Georgia

Moldova: NATO Intensifies Drive Into Former Soviet Union

Estonia: NATO Begins Cyber Warfare Exercise

Joint U.S.-Azerbaijani Military Exercises To Be Held This Year

Albania: Pentagon Holds NATO Communications Exercise Planning

Interceptor Missiles: U.S. Guided Missile Destroyers In France, Spain

NATO Naval Group, U.S. Carrier Strike Group Meet In Mediterranean

Germany: U.S. Airborne Troops Train For Afghan Counterinsurgency

Pentagon Seeks More Funds For Israeli Missile Interceptors

50 Killed in Latest Libyan Violence

State Department Recruits Central Asian States Against Iran

Gulf Of Guinea: U.S. Air Forces Africa Holds Multinational Exercise

Russia: Measures To Guard SCO Members Against Western Secret Services On Web

====

Pentagon Expands Global Missile Shield To Asia, Middle East

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-usa-asia-missilebre82q024-20120326,0,1632573.story

Reuters
March 27, 2012

U.S. seeks missile-defense shields for Asia, Mideast
Jim Wolf

WASHINGTON: The United States is seeking to build regional shields against ballistic missiles in both Asia and the Middle East akin to a controversial defense system in Europe, a senior Pentagon official disclosed on Monday.

The effort may complicate U.S. ties with Russia and China, both of which fear such defenses could harm their security even though the United States says they are designed only to protect against states like Iran and North Korea.

The U.S. push for new anti-missile bulwarks includes two sets of trilateral dialogues – one with Japan and Australia and the other with Japan and South Korea, said Madelyn Creedon, an assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs.

The model would be the so-called “phased adaptive approach” for missile defense in Europe, Creedon said. This includes putting interceptor missiles in Poland and Romania, a radar in Turkey and the home-porting of missile defense-capable Aegis destroyers in Spain.

Moscow fears that such a shield, given planned upgrades, could grow strong enough by 2020 to undermine Moscow’s own nuclear deterrent force. It has threatened to deploy missiles to overcome the shield and potentially target missile defense installations such as those planned in NATO members Poland and Romania.

China likely would be even more opposed to an antimissile shield in its backyard, said Riki Ellison, a prominent missile-defense advocate noted for his close ties to current and former U.S. senior military officials involved in the effort.

Beijing “would take much more offense to an Asian phased adaptive approach than Russia is doing with the European one,” he said, calling regional shields a good idea in theory but problematic in reality.

GULF STATES

In the Middle East, Creedon said Washington will work to promote “interoperability and information-sharing” among the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman – as they acquire greater missile-defense capabilities.

The biggest U.S. missile defense contractors include Boeing Co, Lockheed Martin Corp, Raytheon Co and Northrop Grumman Corp.

The Obama administration at the same time stepped back from an announcement this month that it was weighing the possibility of giving Russia certain classified missile-defense data as the price for winning its acquiescence to the European shield.

“We are not proposing to provide them with classified information,” Ellen Tauscher, the administration’s special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense, told the conference…

(with additional reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Eric Beech)

====

“Milestone In Global Missile Defense”: Raytheon Tests New Patriot

http://www.bostonherald.com/business/general/view/20220326raytheon_completes_new_patriot_missile_test/srvc=home&position=recent

Boston Herald
March 26, 2012

Raytheon completes new Patriot missile test
By Ira Kantor

Raytheon Co. said today it has successfully completed a system-level guided flight test of its new production Patriot air and missile defense system.

The new system has improved computing and radar capabilities, the Waltham-based company said.

“The system’s flawless performance using all newly-built major end items is a significant milestone for global air and missile defense,” said Sanjay Kapoor, vice president for integrated air and missile defense at Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems business. “Our customers and warfighters will greatly benefit from the new designs, such as the color LCD displays with touch screens and digital track via missile guidance.”

In the guided test flight, the system searched, detected and tracked an air-breathing target flying at a low altitude in a high-clutter environment, which the missile engaged and destroyed, Raytheon officials said, adding the Patriot is the “system of choice” for 12 nations worldwide.

====

U.S., Canadian, Mexican Defense Chiefs In Unprecedented Meeting

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=67719

U.S. Department of Defense
March 27, 2012

Panetta Attends Historic Trilateral Defense Meeting

OTTAWA, Canada: Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta attended an historic trilateral meeting here today with defense leaders from Canada and Mexico to discuss common challenges and improve continental security.

“This is the first trilateral meeting of defense ministers from the United States, Canada and Mexico and it’s a real honor for me to have this opportunity to be here in Ottawa to participate in this historic event,” Panetta said during a post-meeting news conference.

Panetta said the meeting provided the defense ministers with “an unprecedented opportunity to try to bring together our nations in a common approach to continental security.”

“The United States and Mexican forces have long cooperated in a number of areas, especially in the fight against illegal drug traffickers,” he added.

Panetta expressed his gratitude to Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay for Canadian forces’ partnership in Afghanistan.

MacKay said it was important for the three nations to work together to improve continental security for North Americans.

The leaders also discuss the need for a common threat assessment on challenges facing the area, better military-to-military relationships and improved regional engagement, Panetta said.

“Looking ahead, the U.S. is exploring other ways to improve our defense collaboration and to focus on areas like cyber security and defense support to civil authorities,” he added. “We continue to take steps on a bilateral basis as well.”

Panetta…also had “very constructive” talks with McKay, he said, about capacity building in Central America, NATO’s long-term approach in Afghanistan, ongoing NATO reform efforts and America’s commitment to the F-35 program.

“All of these steps herald a new era of defense cooperation on this continent,” he said…

====

Russia Concerned Over Washington’s Plans To Ship Arms To Georgia

http://www.interfax.com/newsinf.asp?pg=3&id=319669

Interfax
March 27, 2012

Moscow concerned about Washington plans to ship arms to Georgia

-“Russia has drawn the attention of the U.S. Department of State on many occasions to the increasingly frequent visits by U.S. warships to Georgian ports, including warships equipped with Aegis combat systems.”

MOSCOW: Moscow has expressed its concerns to Washington over U.S. plans to ship weapons to the Georgian contingent in the International Assistance Force in Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesmen Alexander Lukashevich said.

“We have reacted by referring a note to the U.S. Embassy and by expressing our concern,” he said at a press briefing in Moscow on Tuesday.

Lukashevich said that the U.S. Embassy informed the Russian side last year that Washington plans to ship fire arms and armored vehicles to the Georgian contingent in Afghanistan.

“We think it is of crucial importance to ensure that the arms used by the Georgian contingent in Afghanistan do not get into Georgia,” the Russian diplomat said.

Georgia’s participation in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan is often used as a pretext for Georgia’s re-militarization, he said.

“The Saakashvili regime could use these weapons against Abkhazia and against South Ossetia, including against Russian citizens residing there,” Lukashevich said.

Any military cooperation with Georgia may entail serious consequences for the world and for regional security, he said.

“Russia has drawn the attention of the U.S. Department of State on many occasions to the increasingly frequent visits by U.S. warships to Georgian ports, including warships equipped with Aegis combat systems,” he said.

“Whichever explanations may be provided, it is clear that the Georgian leadership sees these visits as an encouragement for its revanchist plans,” Lukashevich said.

====

Moldova: NATO Intensifies Drive Into Former Soviet Union

http://www.nato.int/cps/en/SID-E261303F-4C696E3C/natolive/news_85529.htm

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
March 27, 2012

Moldovan Prime Minister Discusses Partnership with Allies Ahead of Chicago

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Moldovan Prime Minister Vladimir Filat met on 27 March in Brussels to discuss their partnership ahead of the Chicago Summit in May.

“It is clear that partnerships will remain at the core of NATO’s business” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen after the meeting. “We want to bring our political dialogue and our practical cooperation to a new level.”

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the relationship between the Republic of Moldova and NATO through the Euro-Atlantic Partnership. An ambitious Individual Partnership Action Plan was agreed in 2010, and today, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to this relationship.

“Today we reiterate Moldova’s commitment to continuing our cooperation with NATO” said Moldovan Prime Minister Vladimir Filat. “Our aim is to transform Moldova from a consumer to a provider of regional stability, with the assistance of our international partners”, he explained…

“We are committed to supporting Moldova in all reform areas you choose” stated Rasmussen. “Our discussions today…confirm our commitment to develop and deepen our partnership, which only reinforces Moldova’s path towards European integration.”

====

Estonia: NATO Begins Cyber Warfare Exercise

http://www.ccdcoe.org/334.html

NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence
March 26, 2012

International Cyber Defence Exercise Locked Shields 2012 Begins Today

NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in cooperation with its partners is organising an international cyber defence exercise from 26th to 28th of March. The goal of the exercise is to support the Multinational Experiment 7, train IT specialist and legal experts, and learn from the activities of the teams.

“Centre’s main objective is to enhance the cyber defence capability of NATO and its partners and exercises such as this are invaluable for training the specialists’ skills and cooperation,” commented Director of the Centre, Colonel Ilmar Tamm…

The Blue Teams consist of experts and specialists from governmental organisations, military units, CERT teams and private sector companies. There will be Blue Teams from Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Finland, Italy, NATO (NCIRC), Slovakia and combined teams from Germany-Austria and Denmark-Norway-Sweden. The core of the Red Team is composed of specialists and volunteers from Finland and Estonia, with additional contributors from Germany, Latvia, Italy and NCIRC.

Locked Shields, named after an ancient defence tactics, is not the first technical exercise organised by the Centre. Last one, nicknamed Baltic Cyber Shield, was organised in May 2010 in cooperation with Sweden and the Estonian Cyber Defence League. The Centre also contributes to the NATO Cyber Defence Exercise (Cyber Coalition) by helping to plan, develop, and execute the exercise.

NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence is one of many NATO Centres of Excellence. Its mission is to enhance the capability, cooperation and information sharing among NATO, its member nations and partners in cyber defence…

====

Joint U.S.-Azerbaijani Military Exercises To Be Held This Year

http://www.news.az/articles/politics/56899

News.Az
March 19, 2012

Joint Azerbaijani-US military exercises to be held this year

 
Joint military exercises of Azerbaijan and the US are expected to be held this year, according to military sources.

Reportedly, the first exercise is to be held in summer in Romania, which will involve 75 Azerbaijani servicemen. Besides the US servicemen, the exercise will involve servicemen from Bulgaria, Romania and other countries.

Separate US-Azerbaijani military trainings are also to be held in the fall of this year, which will involve 100 Azerbaijani servicemen.

====

Albania: Pentagon Holds NATO Communications Exercise Planning

http://www.eucom.mil/article/23239/combined-endeavor-2012-planning-conference-begins

U.S. European Command
March 27, 2012

Combined Endeavor 2012 planning conference begins

TIRANA, Albania: The week-long mid planning conference for exercise Combined Endeavor 2012 (CE12), U.S. European Command’s largest communications interoperability exercise, began today with more than 300 participants attending to continue the planning and testing for this year’s exercise.

During the opening ceremony, Albanian Chief of General Staff, Maj. Gen. Xhemal Gjunkshi, talked about his country’s history with Combined Endeavor, while highlighting the importance of NATO and Partnership for Peace (PfP) nations working together to plan and execute interoperability testing of command, control, communications and computer (C4) systems.

“Since 1999, Albania has participated in Combined Endeavor and this is the fourth time we’ve hosted a planning conference. This fact reflects the Albanian Armed Forces commitment to this exercise and its goals, and commitment to develop our CIS technologies and human relations with all participating nations.”

Combined Endeavor is a EUCOM-sponsored, multinational initiative intended to encourage interoperability and information exchange among nations…via communications networks and subsequent collaborative links. This week’s MPC in Tirana gives the delegations and components the opportunity to begin network development for the operationally focused technical planning and testing for this, the 18th year of CE.

“As recent real-world events in EUCOM’s theater have shown, we must continually focus on enhancing a commander’s ability to leverage the information domain, be that sharing of satellite or remotely piloted vehicle imagery, or giving nations the ability to task and share each other’s airlift resources.”

Combined Endeavor 2012 will take place in Grafenwoehr, Germany, September 6-20, 2012.

====

Interceptor Missiles: U.S. Guided Missile Destroyers In France, Spain

http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=66100

U.S. Navy
March 26, 2012

USS Nitze Arrives in France
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeff Atherton, Enterprise Strike Group Public Affairs

VILLEFRANCHE, France: The Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) arrived in Villefranche, France March 26 for a regularly-scheduled port visit.

The visit serves to continue U.S. 6th Fleet efforts to build global maritime partnerships with European nations…

“We are going to Villefranche to strengthen relationships between France and the U.S.,” said Master Chief Bill Arbuckle, Nitze’s command master chief…

Nitze is conducting this port visit as part of a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

—————————————————————————-

http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=66101

U.S. Navy
March 26, 2012

USS Porter Arrives in Spain
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alex R. Forster, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs

PALMA, Spain: The Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) arrived in Palma, Spain March 26 for a regularly scheduled port visit.

The visit serves to continue U.S. 6th Fleet efforts to build global maritime partnerships with European nations…

Upon pulling into Palma, the commanding officer, executive officer, and the command master chief paid an official visit to Capt. Jose Maria Lavilla Llano, commander-in-chief, naval sector Balearic Islands.

Porter is conducting this port visit as part of a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

====

NATO Naval Group, U.S. Carrier Strike Group Meet In Mediterranean

http://www.aco.nato.int/snmg1-in-passex-with-us-carrier-group.aspx

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations
March 26, 2012

SNMG1 IN PASSEX WITH US CARRIER GROUP

Nisida, Naples 26 March 2012: The Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) met with the USS Enterprise Carrier Strike Group on 24 March 2012 in the Western Mediterranean.

SNMG1 is currently patrolling in support of NATO’s operation…Operation Active Endeavour.

“Although it is clear that OAE demands considerable attention, as commander of a NATO immediate reaction force, I am always keen to boost the overall readiness of the Group and the individual ships and check and further build the interoperability of NATO’s navies and forces. This encounter allowed me to do all three in one go”, explained Commodore Ben Bekkering, COMSNMG1. “In an intensive and rewarding day, we managed to train long range and short range surface surveillance, had a chance to participate in the flying programme of the carrier and received fuel from USNS Supply. The RAS (Refuelling At Sea) was a true support to OAE, as it allows us to remain at sea for a prolonged period.”

…”Once the carrier starts flying, the radar screens very quickly become busy”, says Sergeant Major Eric Brinkman aboard HNMLS De Ruyter, SNMG1’s flagship. “We were allowed to control some of the aircraft in an air defence exercise. A rare opportunity and the value was further increased by the presence on De Ruyter of one of the carriers air intercept officers. We could exchange ideas and procedures and got an excellent insight in how a carrier operates.”

SNMG1 currently consists of HNMLS De Ruyter (flagship), ESPS Álvaro de Bazán, HMCS Charlottetown and FGS Rheinland-Pfalz.

OAE was launched in 2001…Surveillance by military assets is – at irregular intervals – concentrated into specific areas of the Mediterranean with ‘Surge Operations’ during which larger scale sweeps are conducted.

====

Germany: U.S. Airborne Troops Train For Afghan Counterinsurgency

http://www.stripes.com/news/173rd-abct-wrap-counter-insurgency-training-ahead-of-deployment-1.172616

Stars and Stripes
March 24, 2012

173rd ABCT wrap counter insurgency training ahead of deployment
By Steven Beardsley

VILSECK, Germany: While the world focuses on several high-profile setbacks for the U.S. in Afghanistan, battalions in the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team are looking to more immediate concerns as they ready for a spring deployment…

Scheduled to deploy as part of the Department of Defense’s spring rotation, the 173rd recently wrapped up three weeks of counterinsurgency training in Hohenfels. Companies occupied combat outposts across the training area, set beside mock Afghan villages that housed Germans role-playing residents. A focus of the rotation was pushing Afghan forces, played by Bulgarians, to the front of operations.

Among the scenarios: Villagers protested at outpost gates, insurgents attacked COPs and kidnapped a U.S. soldier. The training was set to mimic conditions in eastern Afghanistan, a spokesman for the Joint Multinational Readiness Center said.

….

A volatile time

The deployment comes at a volatile time in the nation. An Army sergeant was accused this month of killing 17 unarmed civilians. Last month, the U.S. acknowledged burning copies of the Quran at Bagram Air Base in central Afghanistan, setting off days of protests and several reprisal killings.

Commanders also said last year’s high-intensity, full-spectrum training allowed them to improve squad-and platoon-level tactics before training specifically for the deployment.

====

Pentagon Seeks More Funds For Israeli Missile Interceptors

http://en.rian.ru/mlitary_news/20120328/172430588.html

Russian Information Agency Novosti
March 28, 2012

Pentagon to Seek More Funds for Israel’s Anti-Missile System

WASHINGTON: The U.S. Department of Defense will request the Congress to provide additional funding for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The system, designed to intercept short-range missiles, has been partly funded by a $205 million U.S. grant…

“The Department of Defense has been in conversations with the Government of Israel about U.S. support for the acquisition of additional Iron Dome systems and intends to request an appropriate level of funding from Congress to support such acquisitions based on Israeli requirements and production capacity,” press secretary George Little said in a statement.

Last week, Rep. Howard L. Berman introduced the Iron Dome Support Act (IDSA) authorizing U.S. President Barack Obama to provide Iron Dome assistance if requested by Israel. While the bill was still in initial stages of the legislation process, it has already won support from both parties, Haaretz reported.

“Supporting the security of the State of Israel is a top priority of President Obama and Secretary Panetta,” the Department of Defense statement reads.

The cost of a single Iron Dome missile launch is estimated at tens of thousands of dollars…

====

50 Killed in Latest Libyan Violence

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_03_28/69810613/

Itar-Tass
March 27, 2012

50 dead in fresh Libyan violence

       
The number of victims of tribal clashes in the south of Libya has reached 50 people. The epicenter of the clashes is the fourth largest city in the country, Sabha.

The ongoing armed clashes there between the Awlad-Suleiman and Toubou Tribes erupted on Monday night after a member of the tribes was killed.

Inter-ethnic conflicts in Libya have been frequent after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi last fall.

The country is being torn apart by powerful tribes seeking a federal state.

====

State Department Recruits Central Asian States Against Iran

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_03_27/69799532/

Interfax
March 27, 2012

US encourages Central Asian countries against Iran

       
Official Washington encourages Central Asian countries to support U.S. sanctions against Iran, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake, Jr. said Tuesday. He didn’t specify the methods of encouraging.

“United States encourages all countries of the area to stop commerce and other relations with Iran to put pressure on Iran and “be in the same boat” with International community regarding the Iranian nuclear program”, Blake said on press conference in Dushanbe.

====

Gulf Of Guinea: U.S. Air Forces Africa Holds Multinational Exercise

http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123295477

U.S. Air Forces Africa
March 27, 2012

U.S., African nations share techniques in partnership exercise
By Senior Airman Natasha Stannard
U.S. Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

ACCRA, Ghana: Ghanaian, Benin, Togolese, Senegalese, Nigerian and U.S. air force members hit the flightline loading, guarding and marshaling aircraft March 21 during the African Partnership Flight 12-2 capstone event here.

The capstone gave all nations involved in the partnership-building flight the opportunity to share lessons learned through the exchange of ideas, techniques and practices to improve each air force’s capability to secure peace and stability in the region.

U.S. Air Force security forces put their partner nations’ knowledge to the test, approaching the flightline to challenge the partner nations’ flightline security. As soon as the the flightline’s security was threatened, the APF security members used challenge techniques to put the unauthorized personnel on their faces, eliminating them as a threat to the aircraft and enabling the continuation of the mission to load the aircraft.

====

Russia: Measures To Guard SCO Members Against Western Secret Services On Web

http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c32/376605.html

Itar-Tass
March 27, 2012

FSB intends to counteract foreign secret services in blogosphere   

TASHKENT: Russia’s security agencies intend to work out adequate measures to counteract foreign secret services’ activity in the worldwide web, the first deputy director of the federal security service (FSB), General of the Army Sergey Smirnov, said on Tuesday.

According to Smirnov, the events of the Arab Spring and other revolutions on Africa’s Mediterranean cost showed that all these countries had encountered that phenomenon and the use of the resources available in the blogosphere.

“The situation shows that this problem is crucial not only to us, but to all member-countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. They experience similar pressures,” Smirnov said.

“It is very important to devise countermeasures against such activities by various Western secret services,” Smirnov said.

====

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S., Western Geostrategic Interests In Afghanistan And Central Asia

New Eastern Outlook
March 27, 2012

The US interests in Afghanistan and Central Asia
Leonid Gusev*

====

Senator Richard Lugar spoke his mind about the interests of the United States and NATO in Central Asia during visits he made to Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan in 2008. He confirmed that it is in the US interest to establish a multilateral and effective system in the Caspian and Central Asian regions for supplying oil and gas to Europe and other markets in order to reduce the dependence of European and Central Asian countries on the Russian energy monopoly.

From the standpoint of geo-economics, it is also important for Washington to redirect Central Asian oil from China to a market controlled by the stock exchanges in New York, London, Tokyo and Singapore and find ways to transport Caspian Sea resources without going through Iranian territory…

The US military presence in Central Asia allows the Americans to monitor the activities of China and Russia in the region and maintain a military foothold there, so they keep trying to recover their bases in Uzbekistan and increase their usage of Kazakhstan’s airfield network to support military operations by coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The basic missions that Washington will seek to accomplish in the military-political sphere include increasing its military presence in Central Asia and establishing a springboard for possibly intervening in Iran’s affairs, containing China militarily, and putting pressure on Russia and, in the future, on India, as well…

====

The forces of the United States and the Western countries should pull out of Afghanistan in 2014. How will things develop there and in Central Asia then? We can assume that the United States and NATO will continue providing limited military support to the current Afghan regime, and negotiations with the moderate Taliban will also continue.

After all, the experts, including Afghan experts, say that Afghanistan’s armed forces are not as strong or as well-equipped, motivated and trained as they were following the departure of the Soviet Army in the late 1980s. The modern Afghan army is made up of people from the various clans and ethnic groups that have problems getting along with each other. Even if the Afghan armed forces receive enough weapons by 2014, it is difficult to be sure that any government will continue.

After foreign forces withdraw, therefore, we should expect war in Afghanistan to continue and instability to develop throughout the region as a result of that war. And this time Afghanistan will become so unstable and volatile that no one will want to deal with it. That will again transform the country into a safe haven where the armed enemies of the United States and the West will concentrate their forces.

Therefore, many countries will likely continue assisting Afghanistan, and prior to the complete withdrawal of foreign forces there will be attempts at creating conditions conducive to getting the Afghans to agree on establishing a regime acceptable to all parties.

Some analysts in the United States believe that before troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan the country needs to develop a plan under which all nations of the world, especially countries in the region and Afghanistan’s neighbors, would recognize the Afghanistan’s neutrality. They believe the United States should closely monitor observance of that neutrality, and any country which intervenes in Afghanistan’s affairs should be subjected to economic sanctions by the international community.

There is another very important point to be made concerning the withdrawal mainly of US troops from Afghanistan: the US national debt. In 2010 alone $105 billion went to Afghanistan, and in 2011 the figure was $117 billion.

Senator Richard Lugar spoke his mind about the interests of the United States and NATO in Central Asia during visits he made to Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan in 2008. He confirmed that it is in the US interest to establish a multilateral and effective system in the Caspian and Central Asian regions for supplying oil and gas to Europe and other markets in order to reduce the dependence of European and Central Asian countries on the Russian energy monopoly.

From the standpoint of geo-economics, it is also important for Washington to redirect Central Asian oil from China to a market controlled by the stock exchanges in New York, London, Tokyo and Singapore and find ways to transport Caspian Sea resources without going through Iranian territory, despite the fact the route with access to the Persian Gulf is more cost-effective. That was the reason for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which transports Kazakh oil.

In addition, the United States has been very unhappy with the construction of the gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China via Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan that started operating in the fall of 2009.

Along with its economic interests and security concerns, the United States will also continue striving to resolve geopolitical problems in Central Asia — in order to neutralize Russia’s traditional presence and the growing influence of China, which the United States sees as its main strategic rival.

The US military presence in Central Asia allows the Americans to monitor the activities of China and Russia in the region and maintain a military foothold there, so they keep trying to recover their bases in Uzbekistan and increase their usage of Kazakhstan’s airfield network to support military operations by coalition forces in Afghanistan.

As many military experts have noted, American interests in the region for the near- and midterm and the resulting US goals for Central Asian countries include keeping the region’s countries engaged in American regional and global strategies by means of economic, military, political, ideological, cultural and humanitarian influences. Since Washington’s strategy is based solely on its national political and economic priorities, it would be highly undesirable for other countries in the region that are not US allies to grow stronger.

The basic missions that Washington will seek to accomplish in the military-political sphere include increasing its military presence in Central Asia and establishing a springboard for possibly intervening in Iran’s affairs, containing China militarily, and putting pressure on Russia and, in the future, on India, as well; and ensuring it is capable of reacting quickly to actions by international terrorists and Islamic radicals in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other South Asian countries and, to a lesser extent, controlling drug trafficking.

Its missions in the economic sphere include gaining access to the energy resources of Central Asia and surrounding areas; controlling supply routes to world markets; creating conditions for organizing a raw materials embargo of China and India, as required; and ensuring control over strategic reserves of uranium ore.

Cultural goals include the dominance of American culture and lifestyles and the spread of American values.

Thus, it can be said that the United States and the Western countries are very interested in strengthening their political, economic and cultural influence both in Afghanistan and in the Central Asian countries and will seek to be a major force in the distribution and consumption of energy and other natural resources in the region.

*Leonid Gusev is a Senior Fellow at the Analytical Center of the Institute of International Studies of the Moscow State Institute for International Relations (University) of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This article was written expressly for New Eastern Outlook.

Categories: Uncategorized

On The Brink Of Third World War

The Nation
March 27, 2012

On the brink of Third World War
By Nadir Mir*

====

US geostrategy has been embroiled in Afghanistan and Iraq; now it seeks to extend the war to Iran-Pakistan. Of course, the real war is against Russia and China, the opposing alliance. Washington sees China rising, Russia resurgent, the Islamic world defiant (with the Arab Spring likely to turn anti-Western) and Israel endangered, besides Western economic decline.

The US and NATO may attack Iran followed by Pakistan or both at the same time. An Israeli attack on Iran is even more likely and an Indian attack on Pakistan (Cold Start) always remains a possibility.

Russia and China are allies against the US-NATO geo-strategy (Iran and Pakistan are joining this alliance)…After Iraq and Afghanistan, they have seen the US-NATO model of regime change in Libya and Syria by sponsoring local militants…All this is unifying the alliance of Heartland powers Russia-China and Rimland state actors Iran-Pakistan into an anti-US-NATO alliance.

====

It seems that from 2012 onwards, the world is on the brink of a Third World War. All sane and peaceloving men would pray that it is averted. For, the horoscope of the times points towards a global catastrophe in the making. The guns of August 1914 – the First World War – paled in the face of the Panzer Blitzkrieg of September 1939 – the Second World War. A Third World War during the Cold War was averted between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces. If a war breaks out in 2012 onwards, nukes shall speak and, tragically, billions may die; it will most likely be global. This apocalyptic scenario may yet come to pass, unless it is stopped in its tracks.

Opposing alliances: The US globalists-led NATO still wants to dominate the world, despite the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is not only that the Western world’s global dominance stands challenged, but also that the march of history may be reversed. Since the 1500s with scientific discoveries, industrialisation, political revolutions, colonialism, and technological ascendency, the world has been controlled by Western powers. The British Empire, Napoleon’s France, Hitler’s Germany and, more recently, the US have all been part of the Western world’s bid for global hegemony or control. Now the West is really in decline.

The USA – great power and the land of mass production – faces economic stagnation, if not full decline. The EU faces its own economic predicament. Against this backdrop, some Europeans and Americans find the idea of a powerful Germany leading Europe as unacceptable, so far. The two wars were fought – among other reasons – mainly to prevent Germany from its rightful place under the sun. An intra-European conflict may be brewing for the leadership of Europe, even as the US-NATO alliance conflicts with the Russia-China dialectical alliance.

US geostrategy has been embroiled in Afghanistan and Iraq; now it seeks to extend the war to Iran-Pakistan. Of course, the real war is against Russia and China, the opposing alliance. Washington sees China rising, Russia resurgent, the Islamic world defiant (with the Arab Spring likely to turn anti-Western) and Israel endangered, besides Western economic decline.

The presidential election in America are upping the war ante, forcing President Barack Obama to strike Iran. New Delhi seeks Washington’s support to denuke, balkanise, and de-Islamise Pakistan before the USA’s departure from Afghanistan. Meanwhile Israel is straining at the leash before Iran develops a nuclear arsenal. This will change the strategic balance followed by a nuclear Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt.

In Afghanistan, the US seeks to retain a 25,000-strong force for the denuclearisation of Iran and Pakistan. It may seek the independence of Balochistan (with Indian support). A clash with Pakistan is likely though not inevitable. Delhi wants to use American power to fight Pakistan, but absurdly believes it can escape a nuclear conflagration. A war with Iran is even nearer – perhaps 2012. The US and NATO may attack Iran followed by Pakistan or both at the same time. An Israeli attack on Iran is even more likely and an Indian attack on Pakistan (Cold Start) always remains a possibility.

Russia and China are allies against the US-NATO geo-strategy (Iran and Pakistan are joining this alliance). China is rising economically, and Russia is resurgent strategically. After Iraq and Afghanistan, they have seen the US-NATO model of regime change in Libya and Syria by sponsoring local militants. In Russia, President Putin accused the US of instigating the opponents of [his party] United Russia; in China, it used India to foment trouble in Xinjiang, Tibet, etc. All this is unifying the alliance of Heartland powers Russia-China and Rimland state actors Iran-Pakistan into an anti-US-NATO alliance. But the events are moving too fast! The Mayan Prophesy of 2012 as a ‘catastrophic year’ approaches. A US-NATO-India clash with Pakistan or a US-NATO-Israel clash with Iran will lead by default or design into a multi-regional war.

The combined geopolitical space of Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran-Iraq backed by Russia-China is beyond US-NATO reach. A war against Iran could be catastrophic, but against Pakistan it could be doomsday! In fact, a war against Pakistan is very complicated plus suicidal!

Firstly, Pakistan is neither threatening, nor attacking, anybody. It is on high moral ground, despite the USA’s propaganda about the security of its nuclear arsenal.

Secondly, Pakistan will defend itself at any level – sub-conventional (asymmetrical), conventional (armed forces), above conventional (nuclear –WMD).

Thirdly, Pakistanis are united in defending the motherland and fight foreign invaders. The people and political parties want an end to the Afghan war and peace in Pakistan.

Fourthly, Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Russia will support Pakistan, despite diverse strategic interests.

Anyhow, the Muslim world would revolt as war with Iran and Pakistan becomes apparent. The initiators of the attack will be burnt by the flames they help ignite themselves (albeit radioactive fires).

Geopolitics of peace is the solution: US-NATO must relent on Afghanistan; of course, no war with Iran and no interference in Balochistan. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

Besides the innocent people of Iran and Pakistan, people in Europe and the USA are being duped by the neocons and globalists. Shocked when the bastion of capitalism, Wall Street, came under siege and fearing rapid collapse, war abroad is their illogical choice. Even in Israel, half of the population is against war. Overall, the good Jewish people, with their historical sense of survival, seek peace and security. Pakistan is not anti-Semitic at all, but has deep sympathy with the people in Palestine. Indeed, peace in the Middle East would be welcome by all. The globalists, however, are adamant to drive the ‘American Titanic’ into a global iceberg. But this war will be self-defeating for all!

A new paradigm shift is needed, rather than beating the drums of war. The Russians have played a great role in deterring the US war hawks, aided by the peace-loving Chinese. The Germans and other anti-war Europeans, along with sane people in the US, must join hands to abort this global conflagration. Russia’s key role in global peace, security for Israel, no attack on Iran, establishment of a Palestine state, a US-NATO exodus from Afghanistan, no interference in Balochistan, return of Kashmir to Pakistan, US-China amity, all have to be part of the geopolitical peacemaking and war avoidance. Indeed, the alternative – global nuclear war – is too apocalyptic to contemplate.

*The writer is a retired brigadier of the Pakistan Army and is the author of the book Gwadar on the Global Chessboard.

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S.-NATO Assault On Pakistan: Latest Butchery With Impunity

The Frontier Post
March 27, 2012

Not surprising

====

[W]hich irrepressible optimist was it in Islamabad who thought it was going to be any different with the Salala holocaust from what it was with the My Lai massacre by the trigger-happy American soldiers?

If anything, at least the way the Americans have recently dealt with their murderer-in-uniform of innocent sleeping children and women in the two villages of Kandahar in Afghanistan should dispel any illusion being harboured on this score by anyone in the Islamabad establishment.

Certainly, Salala is not going to be their first and last naked aggression on a Pakistani military post. Many more such thuggish assaults could be expected in times ahead, if not scotched right now.

====

The US decision not to charge or try any of its service personnel for the November 26 fatal assault on our military’s Salala check post shouldn’t be surprising, given the U.S. track record.

Not infrequently, but many a time, American soldiers and officers have been caught committing the most heinous war crimes and crimes against humanity. But their military commanders and political leaders are always dodgy, stubbornly loath to put their delinquent personnel through their own justice system, let alone international criminal law, to face the consequences of their heinous criminal acts.

Their instant gut reaction is invariably that their service members couldn’t be sinners but only saints who act only when provoked. This has been throughout their specious stance in regard to their Salala thuggery.

And this indeed was their deceptive stance since the horrific My Lai cold-blooded massacre of innocent South Vietnamese in March 1968 until their deceit couldn’t hold in the face of damning incriminating proof surfacing globally. Scores of US soldiers who had descended on helicopters on the unfortunate Vietnamese village of about 700 people on the fateful day had done in at one fell swoop neatly 500 innocent children, women and elderly persons with savage gunfire.

Yet the American commanders and their political bosses were at first in total denial of this mass slaughter by their servicemen. Rather, they were pridefully effusive of their “heroic deed”.

But as clinching evidence started coming to the public fore, no less from the mouths of the soldiers themselves who in s state of inebriation spilled the beans, one indeed bragged of his killing spree in a television encounter, both the military and political bosses were then all pretexts and excuses.

Their one common refrain was that the village was infested with Vietcong guerillas who had provoked the US servicemen’s reaction with their firing. This lie, too, was conclusively nailed as all the able-bodied Vietnamese had gone out of their village and were working in their paddy fields when the murderous attack was launched by the American soldiers on My Lai.

Under the heat of global outrage and also some domestic pressure, the American lords had to institute an investigation and a trial of sorts, albeit for form’s sake.

Almost all the 26 soldiers put on trial were exonerated from the charge and released. Only a second lieutenant was convicted. And although he was found guilty of slaughtering 29 Vietnamese villagers, including several toddlers, his life sentence was reduced to three and a half years imprisonment by America’s president, which too he spent not in any jail but in his own home with his family under a lax house detention.

So which irrepressible optimist was it in Islamabad who thought it was going to be any different with the Salala holocaust from what it was with the My Lai massacre by the trigger-happy American soldiers?

If anything, at least the way the Americans have recently dealt with their murderer-in-uniform of innocent sleeping children and women in the two villages of Kandahar in Afghanistan should dispel any illusion being harboured on this score by anyone in the Islamabad establishment. The American slayer of the Afghan innocent village folk was spirited away from Afghanistan even before full investigations could start into his savage butchery.

The Afghan investigators question, and very correctly, whether this slaughter could be the vile work of a lone murderer. According to their preliminary findings, at least 20 to 30 American rogue soldiers participated in this grisly orgy.

But by taking him away from the scene, the Americans have made the full truth about this slaughter stay forever under wraps. And although the sinning American soldier may now have been slapped with murder charges at home, what reason is there to believe that his fate will be any different from the second lieutenant of My Lai infamy who was let off so lightly for such a dreadful, heinous crime?

The upshot is that someone in the Islamabad establishment has to determine that the slayers of our unsuspecting soldiers at the Salala post do not go scot-free and are brought to justice.

This is all the more important in view of America’s Afghan war having visibly gone so irreversibly wrong. Predictably, for their Afghan debacle the American commanders in all likelihood with the tacit, if not declared, consent of their bosses in the Obama administration will increasingly take on Pakistan to make a punching bag of it for their reverses in Afghanistan.

Certainly, Salala is not going to be their first and last naked aggression on a Pakistani military post. Many more such thuggish assaults could be expected in times ahead, if not scotched right now.

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. Expands Missile Shield Into Asia And Middle East

RT
March 27, 2012

 

US missile shield branches into Asia, Middle East

 

VIDEO

 

The Pentagon has revealed plans to deploy elements of its global antiballistic missile defense system in Asia and the Middle East. A similar project in Europe is one of the key points of conflict between America and Russia.

The plan to have AMD shields in Asia and the Middle East was revealed on Monday by Madelyn Creedon, the US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs.

Washington is engaged in two sets of trilateral talks over the Asian system – one with Japan and Australia, the other with Japan and South Korea, the official said.

The so-called “phased adaptive approach” used for deploying a similar system in Europe will serve as the model for the Asian region. The controversial European antimissile shield includes placing a radar in Turkey, missile interceptors in Poland and Romania, and the deployment of destroyers equipped to use the Aegis antimissile system in Spain.

American plans for the Middle East include the promotion of “interoperability and information-sharing” among the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council as they acquire greater missile-defense capabilities, Reuters cites Creedon as saying. The countries involved are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Deployment of the American antimissile system in Europe has been a thorn in Moscow’s side since the Bush era. Russia fears that the system, once fully operational, would undermine its nuclear deterrence. It said it would deploy its short-range missile forces to destroy elements of the system and would upgrade its intercontinental ballistic missiles in response to the US moves.

The Asian AMD will likely trouble China for the very same reasons. In a recent interview, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov invited Beijing to step up and voice its potential objections.

Moscow plans to host a security conference in May, where it hopes to make a case against the American antimissile system, proving that its stated goal to contain Iran and North Korea is not in line with its actual future capabilities.

Controversial launch debated in Seoul

 

The news comes as world leaders are discussing non-proliferation and other security issues at a nuclear summit in Seoul. The issue of AMD already surfaced there, as journalists overheard an informal conversation between US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.

The US leader asked for “space” over the issue until his re-election campaign is over, potentially allowing him room to be more “flexible”. He asked Medvedev to deliver the message to Russia’s President-elect Vladimir Putin.

The summit in the South Korean capital is entering its second day on Tuesday. Among the issues being hotly debated there are North Korea’s nuclear program and the planned satellite launch scheduled for mid-April.

Pyongyang insists this launch is purely peaceful, but opponents suspect that the country wants to test a modernized ballistic missile for its military.

Obama has warned Pyongyang that through threats and provocation, North Korea is not going to win any new allies. He called on China to press on Pyongyang to abandon the idea of a new missile test, as Washington believes Beijing is the only power which has any real pull with Pyongyang.

Categories: Uncategorized

Self-Designated World Policeman Must End Its Longest War

March 27, 2012 2 comments

The News
March 27, 2012

The long war
Roedad Khan

====

The US war in Afghanistan now in its 11th year is a war of choice. Not a war of necessity. The overwhelming desire of the Afghans is to see the war end along with the fervent wish to see the back of the US army. It has hardened their determination to fight for their country, to defend their homeland against what they view as an alien, repugnant and inhumane enemy.

How long is it going to take for the US to recognise that the war it so foolishly started is a fiasco – tragic, deeply dehumanising and ultimately un-winnable? How much more time, how much more money and how many more wasted lives is it going to take? One thing is clear. Peace and stability will never resume as long as aggression continues and US soldiers remain on Afghan soil. Instead of enacting a charade, the US should turn the country over to a genuine international coalition headed by the United Nations and get out.

Today, contrary to John Adam’s advice, the US stalks the world alone in search of monsters to destroy.

“A democracy”, General George C Marshall once said, “cannot fight a seven years war”. The US war in Afghanistan has been going on for eleven long years and victory is nowhere in sight.

====

On March 11, 2012, a US army sergeant, without any provocation, methodically killed 16 unarmed civilians, nine of them children, in three villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province. Some of the bodies had single, execution-style bullet wounds in the head. The villagers had barricaded themselves in their homes, blocking the doors with odd pieces of furniture in a vain attempt to protect themselves and their womenfolk from the attacker. According to reports, US soldiers, often under the influence of drink, roam the streets and nobody feels safe. Afghan women are paralysed with the all-too-justified fear of being raped.

The deadly rampage of a heavily-armed US soldier, in the wake of other similar provocative incidents like the desecration and burning of the Holy Quran at the Bagram air base and a video showing US Marines urinating on dead Taliban fighters provoked countrywide outrage, an outpouring of revulsion against the US army and a threat of vengeance from the Afghans.

It was another country in another time but the actions were similar. On March 16, 1968, soldiers of US “Charlie” Company of the 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade of the American Division murdered between 347 to 504 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam which later came to be known as the My Lai Massacre. Most of the victims were women, children (including babies), and elderly people. Some of the bodies were later found to be mutilated. While 26 US soldiers were initially charged with criminal offenses for their actions at My Lai, only Second Lieutenant William Calley, a platoon leader in Charlie Company, was convicted. Found guilty of killing 22 villagers, he was originally given a life sentence, but only served three and a half years under house arrest! Anyone who thinks that the perpetrator of the Kandahar massacre would be brought to justice and executed must have his head examined.

Afghans are no strangers to foreign military interventions in their country. After nine years of occupation, the last Soviet soldier left Afghan territory on Wednesday, February 15, 1989 at 11:55 A.M. local time. General Boris V Gromov, a hero of the Soviet Union and commander of all Soviet forces in Afghanistan, walked across the Steel Friendship Bridge to the border city of Termez in Uzbekistan. “There is not a single soldier or officer left behind me”, General Gromov told a television reporter waiting on the bridge. “Our nine-year stay ends with this”.

“The United Nations negotiated the Russian exit,” said the Times of London on April 27. “Its job is now done. The world has no business in that country’s tribal disputes and blood feuds”. Americans too walked away from Afghanistan. The rest of the world also forgot Afghanistan and abandoned the Afghans to their fate. Afghanistan was plunged into a bloody civil war.

The Taliban capture of Kabul in 1996 virtually terminated the civil war in which over 50,000 people had lost their lives. Now, after more than thirty years of foreign occupation Afghanistan is a country of demolished cities, disabled war veterans, amputees, young widows, orphaned children, torn-up roads and hungry people.

Afghans are helpless victims of a war foisted upon them by the US that has only brought misery and produced a catastrophe. “Fighting beyond one’s border”, Chairman Mao famously said, “is criminal”. The US war in Afghanistan now in its 11th year is a war of choice. Not a war of necessity. The overwhelming desire of the Afghans is to see the war end along with the fervent wish to see the back of the US army. It has hardened their determination to fight for their country, to defend their homeland against what they view as an alien, repugnant and inhumane enemy.

The Americans are sinking more and more deeply into the fetid quagmire of Afghanistan and neither the president nor General Allen nor anyone else has the slightest clue about how to get out. The counterinsurgency zealots in the military want the president to completely scrap his already shaky timetable for the beginning of a withdrawal. Getting into a war is generally a piece of cake. Getting out tends to be another matter altogether – especially when the commander in chief and his commanders in the field disagree on the advisability of doing so.

How long is it going to take for the US to recognise that the war it so foolishly started is a fiasco – tragic, deeply dehumanising and ultimately un-winnable? How much more time, how much more money and how many more wasted lives is it going to take? One thing is clear. Peace and stability will never resume as long as aggression continues and US soldiers remain on Afghan soil. Instead of enacting a charade, the US should turn the country over to a genuine international coalition headed by the United Nations and get out. Playing the world’s policeman is not the answer to the catastrophe in New York in 2001. Playing the world’s policeman is what led to it.

Until the turn of the 20th century, US foreign policy was basically quite simple: to fulfil the country’s manifest destiny, and to remain free of entanglements overseas. The US favoured democratic governments wherever possible, but abjured action to vindicate its preferences. John Quincey Adams, then secretary of state, summed up this attitude in 1821. “Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled there will her (America’s) heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own”. Today, contrary to John Adam’s advice, the US stalks the world alone in search of monsters to destroy.

Washington wants to retain bases, special forces and military advisors in Afghanistan until at least 2024. It wants to keep sufficient forces on the ground that can both continue to hunt Al-Qaeda and prop up a corrupt administration in Kabul. One thing is clear that the Afghans will never accept this. The continued presence of US forces will make agreement with the Taliban impossible, so the war will continue.

“A democracy”, General George C Marshall once said, “cannot fight a seven years war”. The US war in Afghanistan has been going on for eleven long years and victory is nowhere in sight. President Obama will be well advised to follow the first rule of holes, stop digging and extricate his troops from the “Graveyard of Empires?”

The writer is a former federal secretary.

Categories: Uncategorized

NATO’s Senseless War In South Asia

Daily Times
March 27, 2012

This senseless war
By Sami ur Rahman

====

The sergeant is said to have served thrice in the Iraq war. God knows how many ‘terrorists’ he would have killed there in his attempt to ‘liberate’ Iraq…Uncle Sam is just so good at producing such invertebrate nephews. Every time it indulges in war, it generates a fresh breed of PTSD patients — right from the Korean War in 1950 to the wars in Vietnam, Haiti, Cambodia, El Salvador, Panama and so on and so forth.

There also seems a strange paradox to the Afghan conundrum. Karzai and his coterie just cannot survive without US help, while so long as there is a US presence in the country, there will continue to be Taliban resistance. That is to say, unless the US withdraws its combat forces, there will not be any peace.

====

First, it was the incident of the US Marines urinating on the dead bodies of alleged Taliban fighters. Then it was the burning of copies of the Holy Quran that sparked massive demonstrations and killings in Kabul and elsewhere. And later the wanton killing of sixteen innocent Afghans, including women and children, by a serving US soldier. Tragically, he did not stop at that. When he had killed his targets, he collected the bodies, lit a match, and set them on fire. Bravo, young soldier! Your country is proud of you — the country that is dubbed as the land of the free and home of the brave. What bravado.

The drone attacks on the Pak-Afghan border and the regular midnight special forces operations in the volatile Afghan provinces are only routine news items now, that both the media and masses take for granted. The official reaction to the latest incident was also a routine one. Afghan President Hamid Karzai called it an “assassination” and “furiously” demanded an explanation from Washington. The man in the Oval House, on the other hand, phoned Karzai and expressed his “shock and sadness at the killing and wounding of Afghan civilians”.

The name and rank of the said sergeant had been kept secret due to ‘safety reasons’. In fact, he was ‘safely’ flown out of Afghanistan to his home country. And why not? He is, after all, a serving US soldier. What if the GI killed a handful of Afghan civilians? It is a war. People do get killed in a war. Yes, they do. But not like that. You cannot even call it collateral damage. It is just a beastly act of barbarism and butchery.

Questions are raised whether it was an individual act or teamwork. It seems a bit immaterial. One is enough when he has got a gun and other lethal weaponry in his gear, and especially when the targets are fast asleep. A death squad of US soldiers in Afghanistan had been uncovered a few months back that was found guilty of killing at least three pedestrians.

The sergeant is said to have served thrice in the Iraq war. God knows how many ‘terrorists’ he would have killed there in his attempt to ‘liberate’ Iraq from the clutches of the ruthless Saddam Hussein, and to introduce his country’s demonic brand of democracy. They say he was drunk; that he had a row with his wife on the night; that he had domestic problems; that he was suffering from stress; and that he simply snapped. That is to say, he was a perfect example of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That must be so. He must be having nightmares about his past. No question about his derangement and dementia either. Uncle Sam is just so good at producing such invertebrate nephews. Every time it indulges in war, it generates a fresh breed of PTSD patients — right from the Korean War in 1950 to the wars in Vietnam, Haiti, Cambodia, El Salvador, Panama and so on and so forth.

Overall, there seem to be no prospects for an immediate solution to the Afghan problem. Just the other day, the Taliban announced their withdrawal from the negotiations with the US due to the snail-paced progress. There also seems a strange paradox to the Afghan conundrum. Karzai and his coterie just cannot survive without US help, while so long as there is a US presence in the country, there will continue to be Taliban resistance. That is to say, unless the US withdraws its combat forces, there will not be any peace.

One can take a cue from the Iraq war. As soon as the US withdrew its forces from the country, a palpable decrease in violence was witnessed. In a sense the US, which deems itself part of the solution, is more likely part of the problem now. And that is only natural for a country that is harbouring pro-Muslim sentiments on paper and anti-Muslim ambitions on the ground.

As for Pakistan-US relations, they are at an all-time low. The supply line is still closed. The Shamsi Airbase is evacuated. There is no US aid to our armed forces anymore. The drone attacks were stopped for a while but they are again gaining momentum. If there has been some tacit understanding between the two governments, one just does not know. We also do not see the frequent visits of US generals and CIA top guns to our GHQ since the retirement of Mike Mullen.

As for Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, they are hanging in the balance as always. We perhaps never have had good relations with Afghanistan during our entire history. Or if we had, it was only during the rule of the Taliban, when no one really recognised the country except the UAE and Saudi Arabia. There have always been rows over the border — the Durand Line, killings, crossings, the Pakhtunkhwa issue, accusations of meddling in each other’s affairs and suchlike matters.

War, strife and mutual bickering are not a solution to any problem. It does not profit anybody — not the US or Afghanistan or Pakistan or even the Taliban. Whenever there is a war, there is a tragedy — the like of which we just witnessed on March 11, when the US soldier massacred sixteen innocent civilians. Either the leaders of the three countries lack imagination and are incapable of coming up with a practical solution, or they simply do not want to solve the problem and only want to maintain the status quo. Either way, the tragedy goes on unabated.

Categories: Uncategorized

BRICS Bank Could Spur Infrastructure And Social Development

March 27, 2012 2 comments

The Hindu
March 27, 2012

Banking on BRICS to deliver
Samir Saran and Vivan Sharan

====

BRICS nations represent nearly half the world’s population. Two of them are already among the top five economies in purchasing power parity terms, and four are in the top 10. If conceptualised carefully, such an institution will have the potential to reshape and realign the global development agenda positively. It can also help to efficiently redistribute and redirect savings available with the emerging economies to infrastructure and social development in the same regions and, therefore, contribute to the rebalancing of the global economy.

[M]ultilateral banks such as the World Bank, ADB, etc., have not been growing significantly in terms of the total amount of loans disbursed. While there was a jump in disbursals following the financial crisis, the normalisation process is already under way. On the other hand, demand for funds for infrastructure and social transformation grows unabated in BRICS and the developing world.

====

Even as New Delhi prepares for the arrival of BRICS heads of states towards the later part of the week, media and experts across the world continue to debate the relevance, capacity and cohesiveness of the grouping. The common refrain in the Western press is that it is a ‘motley crew’ with little in common and therefore with little capability to create institutions and multilateral platforms of substance. Well, they may be in for a surprise. In fact, BRICS may also surprise itself.

Besides the usual declarations on cooperation on political matters, social challenges, climate and energy, food and water, health and education, industry and trade, BRICS is likely to make two significant announcements this time, which will, in many ways, mark its coming of age. First — the formal launch of the “BRICS Exchange Alliance” in which the major stock exchanges of BRICS countries will offer investors index-based derivatives trading options of exchanges in domestic currency. This will allow investors within BRICS to invest in each other’s progress, expand the offerings of the individual exchanges, facilitate greater liquidity, while simultaneously strengthening efforts to deepen financial integration through market-determined mechanisms. From talking to people in the know, this alliance is good to go, and the operational modalities around currency, settlement cycles and inter-exchange regulatory coordination are all issues that have been thought through and resolved.

‘South-South bank’

The second announcement that has people most interested is on the much discussed “BRICS Bank” or the “South-South Bank” that many consider to be an Indian proposal for creating an institution that can serve the development needs and aspirations of the emerging and developing world. This proposal saw much debate (some heated) at the recent BRICS Academic Forum and surely was a key issue for deliberations at the recently concluded BRICS Finance Ministers Meeting. There are many complex and some contested issues that need to be discussed and thought through, but due to the growing support for such an institution among BRICS it is almost certain that the leaders will, at the very least, announce a working group to study the feasibility and operational modalities of such a multilateral bank. Whether they are bold enough to suggest a time line for its establishment remains to be seen but in the opinion of many, it is an idea whose time has come.

Foremost amongst the reasons for the creation of the institution is the need for BRICS to assume pole [?] position in global financial governance. BRICS nations represent nearly half the world’s population. Two of them are already among the top five economies in purchasing power parity terms, and four are in the top 10. If conceptualised carefully, such an institution will have the potential to reshape and realign the global development agenda positively. It can also help to efficiently redistribute and redirect savings available with the emerging economies to infrastructure and social development in the same regions and, therefore, contribute to the rebalancing of the global economy.

Several multilateral banks already exist, that serve as templates for creating a new institution. The World Bank, which is deeply embedded in the global development narratives, serves as a particularly relevant example. If a multilateral BRICS bank is instituted, its functions would not supplant the role of existing multilateral banks that support development, but rather, supplement them. And this supplementary instrument is needed as multilateral banks such as the World Bank, ADB, etc., have not been growing significantly in terms of the total amount of loans disbursed. While there was a jump in disbursals following the financial crisis, the normalisation process is already under way. On the other hand, demand for funds for infrastructure and social transformation grows unabated in BRICS and the developing world.

But how would the BRICS Bank work? There are doubts expressed in some quarters on the process of capitalisation itself. The Bank would have to raise capital from open market operations; floating debt to finance lending operations. While the reliance on markets for raising capital would make the fiscal asymmetries within BRICS nations irrelevant, the sovereign ratings of some of the members, who will collectively be the shareholders of a BRICS Bank, are barely investment grade. This would limit the amount of capital that could be raised from the financial markets and also affect the cost of capital and therefore the cost of lending. One suggested solution is the sequestration of a proportion of foreign reserves of BRICS members into a trust fund that would back-stop the borrowed capital. In the case of the World Bank, the total paid-up capital is around 10 per cent while the rest is AAA rated ‘callable capital’, which has never been requisitioned. To enhance the creditworthiness further, existing multilateral banks, and other western countries could also be given minority stakes.

China’s role

The second element that is always embedded in the discussions around the bank is the role of China. An impression is sought to be created that with its massive monetary reserves and political clout, China may exert undue influence in this bank. This is unlikely. Such a bank will not require too much paid-up capital (relative to the average size of respective sovereign reserves) if intelligent financial engineering can help sequester foreign reserves. This would mean that the smallest BRICS economy, South Africa, could easily commit an amount similar to that of China in the capital structure. Such doubts could be further allayed with the institution of a rotating Presidency of, say, a two-year term that could initially be restricted to the BRICS countries alone. In any case, the charter of any modern-day banking institution with sovereign stakeholders would need to include the mandates of transparency and independence, which would make the institution as viable as any.

The third aspect that remains central to the viability of such a bank is the currency of business. There would be expectations that such a bank would transact in local currencies where possible and in international currency when needed. The bank would need to work with the right currency mix to mitigate credit risk while simultaneously balancing intricate political dynamics within BRICS. For instance, being a current account deficit country, India would not be averse to the U.S. dollar being the currency of disbursal while Brazil with its appreciating “Real’ may prefer local currency. The Chinese may see this bank as a platform for promoting the Renminbi as the currency of choice, especially among the emerging and developing countries. Ultimately, the right mix would need to take into account monetary policy and exchange rate imperatives of each of the primary sovereign stakeholders and in a manner that makes this venture uncomplicated and attractive to other stakeholders as well.

The fourth aspect is the business mandate of such a bank. An effective development bank would have to integrate the multiple economic priorities. Key areas such as infrastructure and the medium and small scale enterprises sector could be natural starting points. The Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) could be considered an exemplar. The BNDES disbursed close to $140 billion in 2011, with around 30 per cent going to the medium to small enterprises sector (MSME) and about 40 per cent going to large infrastructure projects. The BNDES also played a crucial role in stabilising the Brazilian economy after the financial crisis by stepping up development assistance. Similarly, a BRICS Bank could also assume the role of a financial support mechanism which appropriately responds to the variabilities in the global economy.

Corporations are the primary growth drivers of BRICS economies. They create economic momentum, new business opportunities and, most importantly, in the context of BRICS, employment. The creation of SPVs to cater to the investment and insurance needs of corporations would therefore complement the development agenda. The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) provide readymade frameworks. The IFC provides investment solutions for the private sector through services such as equity finance and structured finance, while the MIGA provides non commercial risk insurance guarantees. Guarantees against political risk — which is a significant investment constraint in emerging markets — could facilitate a spurt of new business activity within BRICS, and lest we imagine this instrument to be risk-laden, MIGA has paid only six insurance claims since it was set up in 1988 and needs no counter guarantees.

Need for consensus

BRICS is in transition and cannot afford to lose growth momentum. Multilateral institutions such as a BRICS Bank can aid in sustaining directed, equitable and resilient growth. A consensus on the creation of such an institution would be a very real expression of intent by BRICS to craft alternative development trajectories to those passed down by the OECD countries. And it is also time to Bank with BRICS.

(Samir Saran is Vice-President and Vivan Sharan an Associate Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation. The foundation hosted the BRICS Academic Forum in March this year.)

Categories: Uncategorized

Thirteen Years Later, Effects Of NATO Bombing Of Serbia Still Linger

Edmonton Journal
March 26, 2012

13 years later, effects of NATO’s bombing of Serbia still linger
Liz Milanovich


Chinese embassy in Belgrade

March 24, 2012 marked the 13th anniversary of the start of the U.S.-led NATO bombing of Serbia. That war lasted 78 days. It is now almost totally forgotten as NATO’s focus turns to the Middle East.

Yet those who care about the poisoning of our planet should know that NATO’s 1999 bombing escapade resulted in contamination in Serbia and throughout the Balkans from an assorted arsenal of ammunitions containing depleted uranium, dumped on that region on a daily basis.

NATO’s bombing of Serbia was especially intense in Kosovo, resulting in thousands of civilian deaths, including children. Yet, to hear NATO’s spin about its dalliance in the Balkans, one is led to believe that it was a humanitarian bombing. Humanitarian?

What happened in 1999 was solely the U.S. and NATO could gain a foothold in the Balkans. The U.S. quickly set up a huge military base, Camp Bondsteel, on confiscated farmland near Urosevac, in Kosovo.

Also, that war of convenience came about due to NATO rapidly becoming irrelevant after the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Thus, a new, reinvented and invigorated NATO was reborn, ready and willing to attack all over the planet and ask questions later.

Serbia was NATO’s guinea pig and it was bombed simply because NATO knew it could get away with it, using phoney pretexts.

A very dangerous game is being played out and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Former U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower wisely warned of the dangers of the military-industrial complex. It’s best that his warning be heeded sooner rather than later.

Categories: Uncategorized

Fragmentation Of Libya Has Begun: Former Russian Ambassador

March 26, 2012 4 comments

Itar-Tass
March 26, 2012

Cyrenaica autonomy can be first step towards split of Libya

====

Commenting on who can benefit from the disintegration of Libya, Podtserob said, “Oil companies would benefit such a state of affairs because it is easier to deal with several weak governments than with one strong government.

“Leader of the Libyan Revolution Muammar Gaddafi was a difficult partner for oil monopolies…This was one of the key reasons for backing ‘freedom fighters’ from the West,” the Russian expert said.

====

MOSCOW: Cyrenaica’s autonomy can become the first step towards the split of the country, former Russian ambassador to Libya and Tunisia Alexei Podtserob told Itar-Tass on Monday.

“If Cyrenaica declares autonomy, Libya will cease to be,” the Russian expert said.

“At present, the country is facing the threat of fragmentation. One of the regions of Libya, Cyrenaica, declared autonomy. But their representatives said they would not seek to proclaim independence,” Podtserob said.

At the same time, he did not rule out that the situation could aggravate.

“Then the armed fight for oil may begin because the population of Cyrenaica numbers 20 percent of the country’s population. About 80 percent of oil reserves are in this area,” he explained. In his view, the conflict can arise around oil reserves in the district between Cyrenaica and
Tripolitania.

“It was rather easy to predict the situation in Libya that we are watching now. It is unclear to me why the Americans and Europeans did not defer to the experts’ opinions,” the Russian former ambassador said.

Commenting on who can benefit from the disintegration of Libya, Podtserob said, “Oil companies would benefit such a state of affairs because it is easier to deal with several weak governments than with one strong government.

“Leader of the Libyan Revolution Muammar Gaddafi was a difficult partner for oil monopolies. He dictated his policy and relied on a well-organised country. Thus, Gaddafi made France’s Total pay a 500 million U.S. dollar forfeit. He said the agreement on production sharing had been changed so that foreign oil companies got not more than 20 percent. This was one of the key reasons for backing ‘freedom fighters’ from the West,” the Russian expert said.

“The disintegration of the country has begun. I’d like to hope that this process will be stopped because the disintegration will create many problems for the Libyan people,” he stressed.

On March 6, Cyrenaica elected a regional congress and declared semi-autonomy from Libya’s capital, Tripoli. The congress appointed Ahmed al-Zubair Ahmed, a member of the National Transitional Council (NTC), as the leader of its governing council, who pledged to protect the rights of the eastern region.

Thousands of major tribal leaders and militia commanders attended the ceremony in the region’s capital, Benghazi. Cyrenaica, where the country’s popular revolution against Gaddafi’s four-decade-long rule erupted last year, stretches from the central city of Sirte to the Egyptian border in the east. The NTC has protested the autonomy as a “blatant call for fragmentation.”

Categories: Uncategorized

Obama Stokes Tensions In Korean Demilitarized Zone

March 26, 2012 1 comment

Global Times
March 26, 2012

Obama making unwanted waves in DMZ

US President Barack Obama paid his first visit Sunday to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that splits the Korean Peninsula, where he thanked US troops for guarding the “freedom frontier.”

The date of Obama’s visit is virtually two years to the day since the sinking of the Cheonan, the South Korean warship, as well as the day that marks 100 days since the death of Kim Jong-il.

Obama’s border stop and his speeches there will have effects on the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul today. Apparently, Obama considers his visit to the 38th Parallel as a political show to win votes for the November presidential election. It’s annoying and disappointing. Leaders and senior officials from over 50 countries are attending the summit to discuss nuclear issues rather than participate in US politics. 

The US was signaling its support to South Korea through Obama’s border visit. However, it was unwise to do so before the Nuclear Security Summit. The summit is not an anti-North Korea summit. South Korea, as the host country and the US, as the biggest nuclear country, should understand this.

Tension in the Peninsula has become a normal state. The US-North Korean agreement in late February was applauded for raising hopes of a resumption of the Six-Party Talks, under which North Korea agreed to halt its nuclear program and long-range missile tests in return for US food aid. Uncertainty was then caused by the North’s announcement in mid-March that it would launch a satellite in April.

The DMZ is one of the few places in the world that is still under the shadow of the Cold War. It can still cause serious clashes and involve the major powers of the world.

Obama is the fourth US president to visit the DMZ following Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. North of the 38th Parallel, North Korea has been left behind by the boom in East Asia. It is mired in poverty while strenuously pursuing its sense of security.

Security is the overwhelming top goal of North Korea, something that Seoul, Tokyo and Washington have failed to help with. The national strength of the US and South Korea is several times greater than that of North Korea. But the two never miss an opportunity to put pressure on North Korea, as if they could be attacked by North Korea at any time.

The Korean Peninsula remains a diplomatic hot button in the world. Handling the issue needs rationality and calmness. Unfortunately, South Korea and the US are too anxious.

Categories: Uncategorized

Stop NATO news: March 26, 2012

March 26, 2012 1 comment

====

800 NATO Staffers, Personnel To Inspect Chicago Ahead Of Summit

Afghan Soldier Kills Two NATO Counterparts

Afghan War: 88 NATO Soldiers Killed So Far This Year

NATO Commander Praises Qatari Emir For Libyan “Liberation”

Seoul: U.S., Georgian Presidents Meet In Private

U.S. Denounces Abkhaz, South Ossetian Elections

NATO Enlargement Bill Introduced In U.S. Congress

====

800 NATO Staffers, Personnel To Inspect Chicago Ahead Of Summit

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-nato-summit-delegation-visit-0326-20120326,0,3446788.story

Chicago Tribune
March 25, 2012

NATO staffers to check out Chicago
Hundreds to visit the city this week to figure out logistics of May summit
By Kathy Bergen

Hundreds of NATO staffers are visiting Chicago this week to scope out the city in advance of the May 20-21 meetings for the security alliance, according to the city’s host committee.

Word of the visit came as a Chicago delegation, including members of the host committee, returned from NATO headquarters in Brussels.

As many as 800 personnel from NATO and its 28 member countries will arrive in Chicago to become more familiar with the layout of the city and the McCormick Place convention center as they plan the logistics of the summit. Some were to arrive as early as Sunday, with others coming midweek, summit planners said.

In May, delegations from as many as 50 countries totaling about 7,000 people, as well as about 2,500 journalists, will descend on the city to hold two days of meetings of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. With the U.S. Secret Service overseeing security for the event and the large number of world leaders requiring top-quality hotel suites, preparations for motorcade transportation and organizing lodging have been complex, summit planners said.

Last week, the White House highlighted a couple of events during the summit: a “working dinner” at Soldier Field on the evening of May 20 and earlier that day a tour of the Gary Comer Youth Center on the South Side led by first lady Michelle Obama for spouses of NATO dignitaries.

NATO’s 28 members are from Europe and North America, but leaders from other countries affected by the policies of the alliance typically attend the meetings as well. This year’s summit, hosted by President Barack Obama, will focus heavily on the future of western military intervention in Afghanistan.

A Chicago delegation, led by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s wife, Amy Rule, spent last week at NATO headquarters promoting the virtues of Chicago as a business and tourist destination. The NATO weekend was to be a double summit until Obama decided last month to relocate the G-8 economic summit to Camp David. City officials continue to bill the NATO meetings as an opportunity to shine a global spotlight on Chicago.

Tribune reporter David Heinzmann contributed.

====

Afghan Soldier Kills Two NATO Counterparts

http://en.rian.ru/world/20120326/172399594.html

Russian Information Agency Novosti
March 26, 2012

Afghan Soldier Kills Two NATO Soldiers

Moscow: An Afghan soldier opened fire on NATO troops in the south of the country on Monday morning, killing two soldiers, local media reported.

The incident occurred at a military base in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province.

“The gunman was shot and killed,” Al Jazeera reported, quoting NATO spokesman Major Jason Waggoner. He declined to provide further details.

Twenty soldiers from coalition forces in Afghanistan have been killed by Taliban sympathisers in the Afghan National Army and police since 2002.

====

Afghan War: 88 NATO Soldiers Killed So Far This Year

http://www.khaama.com/explosion-kill-nato-soldier-in-southern-afghanistan-914

Khaama Press
March 25, 2012

Explosion kill NATO soldier in southern Afghanistan
By Ghanizada

NATO-led International Security Assistance Force officials following a press release on Sunday announced a NATO service member was killed following a roadside improvised explosive device explosion in southern Afghanistan.

The statement further added the incident took place on Saturday in southern regions of the country.

ISAF did not disclose further information regarding the exact location of the incident and nationality of the deceased soldier.

The International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan generally does not disclose the identities of NATO service members who are killed in Afghanistan, saying, “It is ISAF policy to defer casualty identification procedures to the relevant national authorities.”

This comes as another NATO service member was killed following an insurgent attack and 5 others were wounded in western Afghanistan while another NATO service member died of non-battle related injuries in eastern Afghanistan.

At least 88 NATO service members including 51 US troops, 11 British troops and 26 soldiers from the other countries have been killed since the beginning of 2012 in Afghanistan.

====

NATO Commander Praises Qatari Emir For Libyan “Liberation”

http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=495134&version=1&template_id=36&parent_id=16

Gulf Times
March 26, 2012

Nato commander hails Qatari forces’ role in Libya’s liberation
By Ayman Adly

====

Bouchard also highlighted the role of the media in the success of the mission, especially the Al Jazeera news channel, BBC and CNN.

“We have to tailor our media to target different segments of people, officials, troops and mercenaries,” said Bouchard hoping that means of popular social media such as YouTube, Facebook and email should be utilised in future operations.

====

Lieutenant General Joseph Jacques Charles Bouchard, Nato Commander of Operation Unified Protector, praised the guidance given by HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Kalifa al-Thani during the operations describing his decisions as wise and courageous.

He pointed out that the Qatari forces provided the much needed culture information and understanding in a timely manner.

“They provided us with a strategic understanding of the Arab point of view of this, which was very important for leadership,” clarified the commander, adding: “We are proud of Qatari forces’ performance and this is justifiable from all perspectives.”

“Let’s continue to tell Nato how the Arab world works and continue to further interact,” he urged hoping that communication should be continued in this respect.       

In a lecture about the role of the Qatari forces in the operations in Libya, Bouchard explained the factors that contributed towards the swift [?] and sweeping success of the operation. He summed these up as effective co-ordination, instant and continuous communication and timely response based on reliable surveillance and reconnaisance.

“It was critical and we needed speedy action. We had only three weeks ahead to move our troops and build our headquarters,” he remembered…

Nato forces comprise 28 different nations belonging to different cultures and subcultures. The situation in Libya then demanded that all take part and swiftly contribute all that they could offer in a timely and well-coordinated manner. This was both highly challenging and rewarding, according the Nato commander.

Operation Unified Protector was conducted in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which made the culture situation rather sensitive. Participating Qatari forces were highly instrumental in this respect. They bridged the culture gap between the Nato forces and local Libyan fighters achieving better understanding.

Bouchard also highlighted the role of the media in the success of the mission, especially the Al Jazeera news channel, BBC and CNN.

“We have to tailor our media to target different segments of people, officials, troops and mercenaries,” said Bouchard hoping that means of popular social media such as YouTube, Facebook and email should be utilised in future operations…

“It was a tremendous success story. We have developed great relationships with our friends, especially the Qataris and it is important to continue this to maintain better co-operation,” he said…

Speaking at the programme, Lieutenant General Ralph Jodice II, who acted as combined air component commander for Nato during the operation, said that Qatar and the UAE were the first to drop ammunition for the operations in Libya…

The lecture delivered yesterday in Doha was attended by the HE the Chief of Staff of Qatari Armed Forces Staff Brigadier General Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah, HE the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, HE the Attorney General of Qatar Dr Ali bin Fetais al-Marri, a number of senior officers and commanders of the Qatari Armed Forces and Nato and some Qatari military students.

====

Seoul: U.S., Georgian Presidents Meet In Private

http://en.trend.az/regions/scaucasus/georgia/2006888.html

Trend News Agency
March 26, 2012

Georgian, U.S presidents meet in Seoul
N. Kirtskhalia

Tbilisi: Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and U.S. President Barack Obama met in private in South Korea, prior to an official dinner within the Nuclear Security Summit, “Rustavi 2″ reported.

As is known, the Georgian President is attending the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, which is also attended by the leaders of 54 countries.

Saakashvili has already held several meetings. Within the forum he is also scheduled to meet with leaders of various countries and representatives of international organizations.

President Saakashvili is also planning to address the forum. The main topic of discussion at the meeting will be mechanisms to ensure the safety of nuclear materials.

====

U.S. Denounces Abkhaz, South Ossetian Elections

http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=24598

Civil Georgia
March 26, 2012

U.S. Does Not Recognize Abkhaz, S.Ossetia Polls

Tbilisi: The U.S. embassy in Tbilisi said in a statement that Washington “recognizes neither the legitimacy of the de facto ‘elections’ held in the Abkhazia region on March 24, nor those in the South Ossetia region on March 25.”

“Georgia’s large number of citizens displaced from their homes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia were unable to participate in the polls, nor are they able to return to their homes,” the statement reads, which also reiterates the U.S. support to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“We further urge Russia to fulfill all of its obligations under the 2008 ceasefire agreement, including withdrawal of forces to pre-conflict positions and free access for humanitarian assistance to Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” it said.

====

NATO Enlargement Bill Introduced In U.S. Congress

http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=24595

Civil Georgia
March 25, 2012

Georgia in Congressman Turner’s NATO Bill

Tbilisi: After U.S. Republican Senator Richard Lugar introduced the NATO Enlargement Bill, Republican Congressman Mike Turner followed suit by introducing a companion bill in the House, designed to encourage further expansion of the Alliance.

The bill, NATO Enhancement Act of 2012, calls on President Obama to “lead NATO efforts” at the Chicago Summit in May to provide “a clear roadmap for the granting of a NATO Membership Action Plan (or other equivalent plan) to Georgia”, as well as to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“I call on the Administration and my colleagues in Congress to recognize that countries such as Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Georgia should be afforded NATO membership,” Turner said.

The bill, if approved, will make Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro eligible to receive U.S. assistance for NATO accession under the 1994 NATO Participation Act and will reauthorize assistance under the same act for Georgia and Macedonia, plus will add other measures as well, including “sales of defense articles and services necessary to maintain sufficient territorial self-defense capabilities in accordance with every nation’s right to self-defense.”

====

Categories: Uncategorized

South Asia: U.S. Military Gives Green Light To Further Killings

Voice of Russia
March 26, 2012

US military gives green light to further killings
Boris Volkhonsky

====

The amount of money paid for each killed person – $50,000 – allows for further considerations. Following this logic, would it not be a more lucrative way for the U.S. strategists to deal with the Afghan problem by just totally wiping out the whole population. Given that Afghanistan’s population amounts to little less than 30 million, this would probably not be a much more expensive way than the futile 11-year war.

====

       
As reported by The New York Times, the United States military has decided that no service members will face disciplinary charges for their involvement in a NATO airstrike in November last year that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

It should be noted that last week Pakistan’s parliament held a special session in order to review the stalemate in relations with the U.S. It signaled Pakistan’s readiness to resume the relationship, including reopening the southern route of supplies to NATO coalition forces in Afghanistan.

But Pakistani parliamentarians have put forward two important preconditions. One concerns a total end to airstrikes over Pakistani territory by U.S. drones, the other an overt unconditional apology for the November airstrike.

The ruling by American military investigators puts a big black cross on such demands. “We found nothing criminally negligent on the part of any individual in our investigations of the incident,” a senior American military official involved in the investigation told The New York Times.

In fact, the investigators determined that the U.S. servicemen fired in self-defense, and it was Pakistani soldiers who had initially opened fire.

This puts the prospects of further negotiations between the U.S. and Pakistan on a number of sensitive issues including reopening the supply route under question. Pakistani Taliban has already warned the country’s lawmakers that they will be attacked if they decide to re-open NATO supply routes.

This looks like a clear indication that the goals of the whole Afghan campaign proclaimed back in 2001 have not been achieved, and the planned withdrawal of Western troops more and more resembles a frantic flight.

Also, both the conclusions the U.S. military have come to investigating the November incident and the flow of reports from the battlefronts in Afghanistan shed a new light on the recently most discussed topic, that is the killing of 17 Afghan villagers, including nine children by U.S. Sergeant Robert Bales.

As of now, U.S. authorities demonstrate firmness in their treatment of Sgt. Bales, even threatening that he may face up to death penalty. But in view of the above investigation all this seems to be a tactical move aimed at appeasing the Afghans for the moment.

Bales’ lawyer has already said that there is no proof of his client’s guilt – no forensic evidence and no confession. Some officials in the U.S. military put all the blame on alcohol rather than a particular individual or the system as a whole, and are more preoccupied with the question of how to limit the spread of booze among soldiers, thus trying to portray the incident as an isolated one.

And the recent payment of “blood money” to families of the people killed by Sgt. Bales is a clear indication that the U.S. is ready to wash its hands completely.

The amount of money paid for each killed person – $50,000 – allows for further considerations. Following this logic, would it not be a more lucrative way for the U.S. strategists to deal with the Afghan problem by just totally wiping out the whole population. Given that Afghanistan’s population amounts to little less than 30 million, this would probably not be a much more expensive way than the futile 11-year war.

Categories: Uncategorized

BRICS Lay Solid Foundation For Global Economic Recovery

Xinhua News Agency
March 26, 2012

BRICS lays solid foundation for global economic recovery
By Liu Chen, Lin Jianyang

====

A Goldman Sachs report in 2009 showed that, since the start of the 2008 global financial crisis, 45 percent of global growth had come from BRIC.

“If you look at what was taking place over the last four years or so, you have clearly seen a gravitation of growth away from advanced economies in the West, struggling with the aftermath of the global financial crisis.”

====

HONG KONG: India’s New Delhi is at present in the limelight for the upcoming fourth BRICS Summit slated for March 28 to 29, where leaders of major emerging economies will gather to discuss topics like global governance, sustainable development and cooperation.

Though still a relatively young mechanism, BRICS has showed its strength as a rising economic power with a prominent contribution to world economic growth since the outburst of the financial crisis, laying a solid foundation for future global economic recovery.

STRONG YEARS

BRICS, grouping Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, represented a gathering of important emerging economies which have played an increasingly big role in the world economy during the last decade.

The aggregate GDP of the BRIC countries (before South Africa joined in late 2010) has close to quadrupled since 2001, from around three trillion U.S. dollars to between 11-12 trillion U.S. dollars in 2010, said Jim O’Neil, a senior Goldman Sachs economist, in his newly published book “The Growth Map”.

“The world will have to pay attention,” he said.

Since the outburst of the financial crisis, the BRICS, with their power of “withstanding the shakings of the world’s economic foundations” and emerging more robust than ever, have seriously drawn the attention of the world.

A Goldman Sachs report in 2009 showed that, since the start of the 2008 global financial crisis, 45 percent of global growth had come from BRIC.

“If you look at what was taking place over the last four years or so, you have clearly seen a gravitation of growth away from advanced economies in the West, struggling with the aftermath of the global financial crisis,” Leif Eskesen, chief economist for India and ASEAN of HSBC, told Xinhua.

Eskesen believed that though reasons of the growth might differ among the BRICS countries and other emerging markets, structural reforms, economic liberalization, investment flows and proper fiscal policies contributed a lot during the past “strong years”.

Meanwhile, BRICS countries have made a tremendous contribution to the world economy by increasing employment, cutting poverty, pouring in capital, and exporting and importing, among other factors.

According to the IMF, BRICS, the cooperative quintuplet, with roughly over 40 percent of the world’s total population and more than a quarter of the world’s land area, was estimated to have a combined nominal GDP of 13.6 trillion U.S. dollars in 2011, accounting for 19.5 percent of the world’s total.

However you choose to interpret the data, the importance of these countries in global economic growth was beyond dispute, said O’Neil.

FUTURE GROWTH MOMENTUM

However, BRICS’ ability for sustainable growth seemed to be challenged by a recent slowdown in the economy, with India’s GDP in the last quarter of 2011 expanding by 6.1 percent, the slowest pace in nearly three years, and China setting a lower target growth of 7.5 percent for 2012.

The important thing in looking ahead was “sustaining the rebalancing between imports and exports”, Eskesen told Xinhua. “That requires continuation of efforts to roll out key structural reforms.”

According to the IMF, for emerging economies the priority was to ensure a soft landing as domestic growth slowed amid a deteriorating external environment and volatile capital flows.

Countries like China, where inflation pressure was expected to ease, fiscal positions were sound, and external surpluses were large, could increase expenditure, including social spending, while India, with relatively high inflation and public debt and limited policy space, could warrant a more cautious stance toward policy easing, said the IMF in its report on global economic prospects released in February.

For the longer term, experts were still quite optimistic about BRICS as the global growth powerhouse of the future. “The growth prospect of the BRICS, overall, is still quite strong,” said Eskesen.

Investment guru Mark Mobius said in early March at an investment summit that rising economic demand amid high population growth, fiscal discipline and diversified trade ties will keep emerging markets on a growth track.

If the BRICS achieve their goals, “it will be good for the world, and good for us”, said O’Neil.

Categories: Uncategorized

Review: America And The Imperialism Of Ignorance

March 26, 2012 1 comment

The News
March 26, 2012

Imperial ignorance
Aijaz Zaka Syed

====

For nearly half a century the world teetered on the edge of a nuclear catastrophe as the US-Nato and Soviet nuclear arsenals targeted each other, promising assured destruction of life on the planet in a matter of minutes…Alexander argues that all that could have been avoided and was totally avoidable as the Russians never posed a serious threat to the West.

[T]rillions of dollars in taxpayer’s money continue to be poured into the bottomless pit that is America’s all-consuming war machine, which now lords over the whole planet with military bases and presence in almost all parts of the world. America’s war hasn’t stopped for a moment since it stepped out of its borders to join the Great War.

With the demise of Soviet Union and the worldview that it represented, the military industrial complex and the gargantuan corporate war industry needed a new enemy and where none existed they had to invent one to justify their existence.

====

So this is how the cookie crumbles. From burning books to butchering babies, it seems everything is fair game as the victors near their tether. Four years after Barack Hussein Obama offered a “new way forward,” the gulf between America and the world’s Muslims is at its widest.

The horrific details of the Panjwai massacre, with first person accounts recounting how the brave US soldiers coolly went about killing women and sleeping children, have poured fuel over a land already ablaze. Obama has condemned the massacre but chose to describe it as “an isolated incident.”

Is it really now? Why do I feel we have been here before? From bombing wedding parties to striking funeral processions and even cemeteries, there’s been a long trail of such ‘isolated incidents.’

Interestingly, the latest in Yankee shenanigans coincides with a groundbreaking book that seeks to make sense of Uncle Sam’s worldview. Andrew Alexander’s America and the Imperialism of Ignorance is a damning critique of US foreign policy over the past six decades and offers a cogent analysis of the military-industrial complex mindset that commands and dictates the actions of the most powerful nation on the planet.

Armed with facts and arguing from a historical perspective, the Daily Mail columnist elucidates how America and the West spent trillions of dollars in taxpayer’s money for decades in fighting – or pretending to fight – an enemy whose threat proportions, intentions and capabilities were ludicrously exaggerated to justify the absurdly inflated defence budgets and militarisation of the US and Europe.

During the Cold War, Europe and virtually the whole world was divided into two perpetually bickering camps with everyone being forced to take sides. Germany was split between the two camps with Berlin, divided by that obscene wall, becoming the theatre of the proxy war and intrigues and machinations of the two superpowers.

The proxy war was only part of the story. For nearly half a century the world teetered on the edge of a nuclear catastrophe as the US-Nato and Soviet nuclear arsenals targeted each other, promising assured destruction of life on the planet in a matter of minutes. Scores of millions of soldiers and gigantic war machines on either side remained in perpetual battle mode, ever ready to annihilate each other.

Alexander argues that all that could have been avoided and was totally avoidable as the Russians never posed a serious threat to the West. For all his savagery towards his own people, sending tens of thousands of them to their death in Siberia, Stalin knew his limits and had no intentions of stepping out of Eastern Europe to take on the West.

If it weren’t for America’s “imperial ignorance,” suggests Alexander, “coupled with its arrogance and immense naivety,” the world would have been a safer place and would never have witnessed the dangerous uncertainty that it did during the Cold War years, constantly living under the shadow of a nuclear cloud.

President Truman, the small town politician who found himself in the big shoes of the visionary Roosevelt on his death, ignored the close partnership of the US, Soviet Union and Britain during World War II, as they took on Hitler’s Germany, to conjure up a Soviet Armageddon and the fantasy of red tide flooding the world. (By the way, it was Truman who defying his advisers and global public opinion rushed to recognise the new state of Israel on the Palestinian land.)

So from the end of World War II to the disintegration of the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc, it was America’s awesome power coupled with its paranoia that made the world a much more dangerous place than it ought to have been, posits Alexander.

You would think this would have changed with the end of the Cold War and the elimination of the threat that the “evil empire” allegedly posed. But two decades after the Cold War ended, the US and Russia are yet to stand down and eliminate the deadly payload at their disposal, even a quarter of which is enough to destroy the planet many times over.

What is more, trillions of dollars in taxpayer’s money continue to be poured into the bottomless pit that is America’s all-consuming war machine, which now lords over the whole planet with military bases and presence in almost all parts of the world. America’s war hasn’t stopped for a moment since it stepped out of its borders to join the Great War.

First, it was Communism. Now the enemy is Islam, or Islamist terrorism, as the euphemism goes. With the demise of Soviet Union and the worldview that it represented, the military industrial complex and the gargantuan corporate war industry needed a new enemy and where none existed they had to invent one to justify their existence. Which Samuel Huntington promptly did for them, fashioning Islam as the new enemy of the West. And the 9/11 provided the ready excuse.

So as part of this constant tilting at the windmills, Washington had to invent Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. The tyrant who had to crawl into a hole to save himself when they came for him was painted as the greatest threat to the civilised world. And it’s no coincidence that soon after the ‘shock and awe’ of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the target shifted next door with the talk of Tehran’s mythical nukes targeting Europe and America’s allies in the Middle East.

Predictably, the first major deal that the free and democratic Iraq has clinched is the purchase of 36 F16 fighter jets from its benefactor at a cost of $6 billion dollars even as the war-weary people are still yearning for luxuries like clean water, electricity, schools, hospitals and, above all, security. There will be more such business opportunities tomorrow if the much sanctioned Iran goes the Iraq way after Washington and Israel are done playing good cop-bad cop. Meanwhile, with the constant talk of Iran’s military ambitions, nervous neighbours are goaded into buying more and more military junk from you know who.

Alexander explains it all as the “imperial ignorance.” But is it ignorance? It’s more like imperial hubris combined with single-minded, old-fashioned pursuit of commerce. Uncle Sam, or the corporate military machine that drives him, knows full well what is going on. In the end, it all comes down to business. And there’s nothing like a good war in distant lands to drive your business and fill your coffers, consequences for the rest of the world be damned.

Most reasonable people, including those in the West, know that it’s not “Islamist terrorism” but unfair Western policies and wars that gave birth to groups like Al-Qaeda and are the real threat and impediment to world peace.

“The American folk hero is the swaggering gunman. Let loose in the wider world, he is a threat to peace,” says the veteran British foreign affairs commentator, urging Britain and Europe to intervene. “It is our duty to warn him off this course, not trail along in his wake.”

You would think old Europe would do that after all that it lived through in the last century. However, instead of talking some sense into their Atlantic cousin, they joined in the fun. Clearly, the two disastrous wars weren’t enough to teach the continent the right lessons.

The writer is a commentator on Middle East and South Asian affairs.

Categories: Uncategorized

“Sorry”: The Hardest Word In The Anglo-American Imperial Lexicon

Khaleej Times
March 24, 2012

‘Sorry’ – the hardest word
By Neil Berry

====

Infused with a sense of the West’s essential beneficence, public discourse in Britain and the US can barely begin to admit that the West’s actions in Afghanistan and Iraq have been not only wantonly destructive, but also counterproductive in the extreme, a recipe for perpetual global conflict.

What seems increasingly plain is that Thatcher and Blair’s penchant for behaving like old-style imperial rulers was intimately bound up with the intensified cult of the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and the US that began during the Thatcher years.

It was the boast of Thatcher that she had stiffened the resolve of President George Bush at the time of the Gulf War of 1990, while Tony Blair rivalled Washington’s neoconservatives in his zeal for military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq and is now a voluble advocate of pre-emptive military action against Iran.

====

An American serviceman in Afghanistan embarking on a homicidal rampage and evoking one of the grisliest episodes of the Vietnam War, no end to the bloodshed in Iraq. Even those who feared the worst when the US, the UK and their allies went into Afghanistan and Iraq must struggle to credit just how badly things have turned out.

Not surprisingly perhaps, in Britain, as in the US, there is more than a little resistance to facing up to the magnitude of the mess the West has made. It is true that commentators have spoken of the UK’s involvement in the Iraq war as the biggest foreign policy blunder since ‘Suez’, the spectacularly botched attempt in 1956 by Britain, France and Israel, to topple President Nasser of Egypt. Yet compared to Britain’s recent military debacles in Muslim lands, Suez pales into insignificance.

Mea culpa, “the blame is mine”, is a Latin locution expressing what has supposedly been a hallmark of Christian culture: The readiness to avow error! But far from apologising for their country’s misbegotten overseas escapades, British politicians robotically reaffirm their determination to ‘finish the job’ in Afghanistan.

Between now and the end of 2014 when the Afghan operation is scheduled to draw to a close, a PR challenge of monumental proportions confronts the British political and military establishment: How to make credible the claim that, notwithstanding abundant evidence to the contrary, Afghanistan is a better place thanks to the sacrifices of British soldiers. What, indeed, have been the gains of Nato’s mission? Its original objective, the ousting of Al-Qaeda from Afghanistan, has admittedly been fulfilled, its terrorist potential far from extinguished.

As for the mission’s more grandiose goals – the extirpation of Islamic fundamentalism and transformation of Afghanistan into a modern democratic state – it will require singular official effrontery to argue that the US and the UK have made measurable progress on this score, especially if national security continues to deteriorate and there are random eruptions of deadly violence against the Afghans by ‘unbalanced’ Nato servicemen or by un-reconciled Afghan soldiers against their Western mentors. Infused with a sense of the West’s essential beneficence, public discourse in Britain and the US can barely begin to admit that the West’s actions in Afghanistan and Iraq have been not only wantonly destructive, but also counterproductive in the extreme, a recipe for perpetual global conflict.

The British enjoy the dubious advantage of being past masters at reinventing their more inglorious exploits as success stories. Their history is littered with episodes – the Crimean War, the evacuation of Dunkirk at the beginning of the Second World War – which on any sober assessment were grievous setbacks, yet which were somehow converted into the stuff of heroism.

The remarkable thing about Afghanistan from a British perspective is that it is a country where, in the nineteenth century, the British army suffered two major military reverses. Yet for reasons that strain credulity, the British forces went there in 2001 sublimely confident that history was not going to repeat itself.

Not so very long ago it seemed the British had said goodbye to their empire-building days. The striking of neo-imperialist attitudes by Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, and rather more extravagantly in the present century by Prime Minister Tony Blair, could scarcely have been foreseen in the 1970s when Britain appeared to be growing resigned to its lot as a post-imperial nation of reduced international consequence. What seems increasingly plain is that Thatcher and Blair’s penchant for behaving like old-style imperial rulers was intimately bound up with the intensified cult of the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and the US that began during the Thatcher years.

It was the boast of Thatcher that she had stiffened the resolve of President George Bush at the time of the Gulf War of 1990, while Tony Blair rivalled Washington’s neoconservatives in his zeal for military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq and is now a voluble advocate of pre-emptive military action against Iran.

Even now, the signs are that the British imperial impulse remains as tenacious as ever. Astonishingly, PM David Cameron has been proposing Western intervention in Somalia, evidently emboldened by the ‘success’ of last year’s Nato operation in Libya, which he and French President Nicolas Sarkozy did much to orchestrate.

By no means all British politicians are heedless of the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Conservative MP Rory Stewart – who, in line with British public opinion, is anxious to see the earliest possible Nato exit from Afghanistan – underlines the limits to what Western intervention can accomplish. Stewart’s persuasive polemic embodies qualities of intelligence, moral sensitivity and modesty that have been desperately absent from Western policymaking.

The writer is a London-based freelance columnist.

Categories: Uncategorized

Pakistan: Spies, Supplies And Sovereignty

The Nation
March 25, 2012

Spies, supplies and sovereignty
By Jalees Hazir

====

Taxing Nato supplies and legalising intelligence operatives and private security contractors are dead give-aways that clearly show the subservience of Pakistan’s ruling elite to the US objectives in the region. The recommendations only hope to get a better deal from the US for doing its dirty work with no inkling of what our priorities are or should be.

What are the recommendations basically saying? Use our territory for transporting supplies for your troops occupying our neighbour, weapons to kill innocent civilians, but please pay us money so that we can repair the roads you use. Fly your planes from our airbases for your imperialist war, send in your spies and mercenary killers for subversive activities, but please get it approved by our Parliament…Attack our military checkposts, kill our soldiers, but please say sorry afterwards. Is the concept of our sovereignty a prisoner of US objectives?

Afghanistan is not the first and only country to be invaded, occupied and destroyed by the US. Hasn’t the champion of human rights and democracy killed millions of innocent civilians in its imperialist wars around the world, changing regimes that do not bow to it and appropriating resources under fictitious pretexts?

Beating about the bush won’t do. We must tell the global badmash that we will not assist it in any way in its war against the Afghan people. That our roads are only one-way for Nato supplies, from Afghanistan to where the supplies came from. That any trespass of our territory through drones or troops will be considered an attack on the country and countered.

====

The much awaited recommendations for resetting Pak-US relations, prepared by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, were presented in the National Assembly last week for debate. These recommendations were drafted before the Quran-burning episode and the Kandahar massacre by US troops stationed in Afghanistan, and do not take into account the rapidly changing situation in the occupied country. But that is not the only problem with the long list of recommendations.

The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly has expressed a number of valid reservations about the list of recommendations and how they were finalised. He believes that the PPP government has already decided on the resumption of Nato supplies and the entire exercise is aimed at getting the decision rubberstamped by Parliament. He is not very optimistic about the sincerity of the government in implementing other recommendations on the list, those that really matter to us.

As he has rightly pointed out, unanimous resolutions of Parliament as well as the All Parties Conference, passed after earlier incidents of US transgressions, had also called for an end to drone strikes, but the attacks have continued killing innocent Pakistanis on a regular basis. He would like to know what steps were taken by the government to stop them. In fact, he says that the main opposition party would cooperate in the review exercise only if the government informs the house about the concrete steps it intends to take for the implementation of this and other recommendations.

Though the US government has decided to hold back its official response to the recommendations, voices from the Congress and its security and intelligence establishment are already groaning and grunting about being asked to stop the illegal and inhuman drone attacks. We are being told that the drones are an indispensible component of their war strategy. So is the government willing to take the next logical step of shooting them down if the CIA does not rein them in? Or will we continue to just register our meek protest?

Actually, the problem goes much deeper than implementation. Though the list contains a number of useful recommendations vis-à-vis the Pak-US relations, they are couched within a framework that cannot be expected to provide the basis of an independent foreign policy. Taxing Nato supplies and legalising intelligence operatives and private security contractors are dead give-aways that clearly show the subservience of Pakistan’s ruling elite to the US objectives in the region. The recommendations only hope to get a better deal from the US for doing its dirty work with no inkling of what our priorities are or should be.

Is it too much to expect from our government to come up with a foreign policy that is truly independent, a policy that views our country and our region with our own eyes, that defines goals according to our national interest and creates strategies to push things towards them? Or are we doomed to carry out orders to achieve the goals of the US? What are the recommendations basically saying? Use our territory for transporting supplies for your troops occupying our neighbour, weapons to kill innocent civilians, but please pay us money so that we can repair the roads you use. Fly your planes from our airbases for your imperialist war, send in your spies and mercenary killers for subversive activities, but please get it approved by our Parliament. Recognise our services, pay us for them on time, but please don’t send in your troops and drones. Attack our military checkposts, kill our soldiers, but please say sorry afterwards. Is the concept of our sovereignty a prisoner of US objectives?

Tokens of independence thrown in the list like building stronger relations with China and Russia and building the pipeline with Iran are all very well, but they mean nothing unless we create an independent perspective on the US occupation of Afghanistan and our role in it, a perspective that sees the US war against the Afghan people for what it is instead of adjusting our options to fit into the barbaric US game plan with a view to limiting the damage we suffer as a consequence. Doesn’t it make more sense to work more closely with other countries in the region for an early and complete withdrawal of Nato troops from Afghanistan?

After all, Afghanistan is not the first and only country to be invaded, occupied and destroyed by the US. Hasn’t the champion of human rights and democracy killed millions of innocent civilians in its imperialist wars around the world, changing regimes that do not bow to it and appropriating resources under fictitious pretexts?

Don’t we know about the dangerous games that the CIA plays all over the world, funding and arming dissident groups, fomenting coups and instability, playing havoc in the countries it targets? Isn’t it a bit naive for the Parliamentary Committee to ask the US for transparency regarding its intelligence operatives and private security contractors? Do they think that the CIA is a philanthropic organisation distributing milk and books to children, and it would be willing to share the information that it often hides from its own government?

The US government is only a face for the greedy and brutal nexus of unscrupulous corporations and equally unscrupulous big daddies of international finance, and it employs its intelligence and war machinery to serve their goals of enslaving the world and controlling its resources. And this is why it is here. On the pretext of fighting terrorism, it has terrorised the entire population of Afghanistan for more than a decade, created more terrorists, and used the chaos to further its agenda of destabilising and eventually controlling the region. This is the perspective we must keep in mind while fashioning a policy to deal with the monster at our doorstep.

Beating about the bush won’t do. We must tell the global badmash that we will not assist it in any way in its war against the Afghan people. That our roads are only one-way for Nato supplies, from Afghanistan to where the supplies came from. That any trespass of our territory through drones or troops will be considered an attack on the country and countered. That no spies or private security contractors will be allowed in the country. And until the last Nato troops leave Afghanistan, we are closing down all American consulates and limiting the diplomatic staff at their Embassy in Islamabad to the bare minimum.

The writer is a freelance columnist.

Categories: Uncategorized

The World’s Most Formidable Military Power: Iran Or Syria?

Calcutta Telegraph
March 26, 2012

Iran or Syria?
Ashok Mitra

It’s time to show the world that the lion is not yet in its winter

====

[The U.S.] has not escaped the fate that is the inheritance of an imperial power, it too is a victim of insecurity complex. The imperial power imagines conspiracy against it in every nook and corner. The conspirators must be crushed. The armed might the imperial power has accumulated is surely not for the sake of mere accumulation.

The US has to survive, its people expect to survive with prosperity. Such a state of existence presupposes an unending supply of fuel, which only West Asia and North Africa can assure. It follows that all the Arab countries in the area swimming in oil have to be brought under the control of the US.

The hemmed-in Democratic president, seeking re-election, is under pressure. Should the sample polls continue to be unfavourable, he might be tempted to take the plunge and do something spectacular in the international sphere to re-capture mass support.

====

The spectacle of an American army staff sergeant firing from his 9 mm pistol and M-4 rifle and killing in cold blood nearly a score of innocent by-standers, including children, in an Afghanistan village is an eerie metaphor. It, many will say, telescopes what the United States of America has been up to in West Asia and North Africa.

The American soldier had gone off his hinges. Psychologists explain that berserk gunmen indulging in shooting sprees suffer from an insecurity complex. They build their own system of logic; they feel vulnerable, they think they could be under attack at any moment from any quarter, they have the right to kill in self-defence; since they have firearms at their disposal, why not make use of these arms to overpower the enemies trying to sneak in on them, shoot, shoot, shoot, kill, kill, kill.

Stray cynics love to suggest that the US, too, is a mental case. It is now a most formidable imperial power — in fact, the only imperial power around. It has not escaped the fate that is the inheritance of an imperial power, it too is a victim of insecurity complex. The imperial power imagines conspiracy against it in every nook and corner. The conspirators must be crushed. The armed might the imperial power has accumulated is surely not for the sake of mere accumulation. It deserves to be used to subdue effectively the enemy or enemies lying in wait, the imperial power would then be able to breathe normally.

Besides, are there not enough underlying reasons for the US to feel insecure? Consider, for instance, the uncertainty over oil supplies. The Americans are great guzzlers of fuel. The requirements of an affluent economic system apart, given their global responsibilities, they can hardly depend solely on domestic output. The Lefties have somehow managed to capture the commanding heights of power in Latin America, rendering quite a bit iffy the regular availability of the most crucial source of energy from that part of the world. The North Sea oil strike has been lovely while it has lasted. But flow from that region has increasingly taken the shape of an asymptote.

The US has to survive, its people expect to survive with prosperity. Such a state of existence presupposes an unending supply of fuel, which only West Asia and North Africa can assure. It follows that all the Arab countries in the area swimming in oil have to be brought under the control of the US. That is the only way the imperial power could be made to feel safe. If the US is safe, the world too is safe. This impeccable logic must not have any challengers. If any of the West Asian or North African regimes contests the proposition, it is endangering global peace and security and needs to be taught the appropriate lesson.

Ever since the 1990s, the US has been continuously engaged in educational enterprises of this nature, Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi president, was indulging in some hankypanky in Kuwait. He was severely dealt with, first by Ronald Reagan, then by Papa Bush. Nonetheless, he dared to persist in his disobedience. Meanwhile graver things began to happen. Al-Qaida arrived on the scene. Imperial America rose in fury at Osama Bin Laden’s astounding audacity in demolishing the Twin Towers and damaging the Pentagon. Osama was yet beyond reach. Never mind, the American nation roared in approval as Bush the Junior ordered the destruction of Iraq and the capture and decapitation of Saddam as retribution for the unpardonable crime committed by the Arabs.

There was also the parallel case of Afghanistan. A quarter of a century ago, the US had propped up the Taliban [Mujahedin] as a strategic device to eject the Soviet intruders from that land. What perfidy, the fundamentalist group soon turned against their benefactors. Bush the Junior decided to invade and run over Afghanistan as well. A stooge administration was duly installed in Kabul. But, just as Iraq is refusing to return to tranquillity, the Taliban are also proving to be difficult to get rid of in Afghanistan and, worse, have gone on to infiltrate into the heartland of neighbouring Pakistan, till now one of the safest citadels of the US. Anti-Americanism is threatening to turn into a fashion.

This is presidential election year in the US. The American people demand some extra performance from the incumbent administration in every election year. On some occasions the administration delivers; on other occasions, it fails. The year 2008 coincided with the outbreak of the sub-prime crisis, growth in both income and employment dipped, disenchantment was widespread with the Republican presidency, the clamour to get the boys back from the graveyard of Iraq rose to fever pitch. The Democrats cashed in on the opportunity. Barack Obama created history by being the first coloured person to enter the White House.

It is a different story this year. The great imperial power is suddenly feeling more vulnerable than usual. The economic crisis at home has eased, income and employment are both looking up, even if marginally. But the story is somewhat else with external affairs. Afghanistan is causing mounting worries. What do you know, Pakistan is also daring to deviate from toeing the straight American line. Clouding the picture further, Iran is on the verge of acquiring nuclear capability. Quite a few countries have developed subversive tendencies and are dilly-dallying in complying with the American firman to sever economic relations, including trade relations, with Iran. Before the situation gets completely out of hand, it is perhaps time to show the world that the lion is not yet in its winter.

On the issue of managing the domestic economy, Obama has more or less capitulated to Republican bulldozing and is unable to claim separate credit for whatever turnaround has taken place. Mitt Romney, the prospective Republican candidate, is very much on the offensive. The hemmed-in Democratic president, seeking re-election, is under pressure. Should the sample polls continue to be unfavourable, he might be tempted to take the plunge and do something spectacular in the international sphere to re-capture mass support.

Nothing would be more welcome to Israel and the eastern seaboard Jewish lobby, which fills the coffers of the Democratic Party, if, say, Obama opts for a sudden strike against Iran. There are, however, several imponderables. It is difficult to gauge in advance the extent of ground support a US expedition might evoke from within Iran. The much greater predicament would be the enormous global outrage such an expedition is bound to cause.

The other possibility is Syria. Bashar al-Assad’s oppressive regime is increasingly losing control, there is widespread violence all over the country every day, international reaction would be much more mute if the Americans do a Libya in Syria. There are, however, risks here too. The Russians are reported to have helped Assad build a strong defence network. To launch an offensive against Syria without gauging the strength of likely resistance would be foolhardy. There is also the other problem. Unlike in Libya, where the local rebels had established themselves in a sizeable segment of the country, thereby facilitating the landing of Nato troops, the insurgents in Syria have failed to prepare a beachhead for the US army units to avail themselves of.

The period between now and the Tuesday following the first Monday in upcoming November, when the Americans go to the polls, is going to be crucial. Mitt Romney’s father had tried, some forty years ago, to be president. He failed. The son is determined not to fail. He will, during the next few weeks keep launching assault after assault against the Democrats. Obama, Romney will thunder, has diminished the United States. Obama may strain to prove the contrary. If the Gallup and other polls look more and more disheartening, he could well be advised to embark on a military initiative of some kind to clinch the point that no Democratic president was ever a pussyfooter.

But should the target be Syria, or should it be Iran? Should it be I or S? It almost seems like the title of an Agatha Christie mystery story. The US president, some will keep hoping, would be unable to make up his mind between I and S and, like the maniac of a bus driver who could not decide whether to run you over from the right or the left, proved to be the safest driver in town, would yet save the world from another conflagration. Whether that would advance or hurt the prospect of his re-election is a different, conceivably a less important, matter.

Categories: Uncategorized

India: The World’s Biggest Arms Recipient 

March 25, 2012 1 comment

India: The Biggest Arms Recipient                                           
By Sajjad Shaukat

====

[C]urrently, more than half of India’s budget is allocated for the armed forces, but its major portion is being expended on defence purchases and debt servicing, which leaves less than half for everything else including infrastructure development projects, education, healthcare, poverty alleviation, and various human services. New Delhi’s latest arms purchases will leave even less for what India needs most to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens from abject poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease. 

It estimated that 50 per cent of the world’s undernourished population lives in India. Nearly 31 per cent of the billion-plus Indians earn less than a dollar a day. 

====

In its report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) disclosed on March 20 of this year that the volume of international transfers of major weapons was 24 percent higher in the period 2007-11 compared to the 2002-06 period. While indicating the purchases of arms and weapons by various countries, the report pointed out, “India is the world’s largest recipient of arms…India’s imports of major weapons increased by 38 percent between 2002-06 and 2007-11.”

It is a matter of particular attention that under the pretext of military buildups by China and Pakistan, India on March 16 of this year boosted military spending by 17 percent to $40 billion. In this regard, in announcing the 2012-13 budget Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the parliament that the government is engaged in a massive programme to upgrade the country’s ageing military hardware, increasing defence spending to $40 billion for the financial year to March 31, 2013. 

Now, India is the biggest importer of arms in the world. New Delhi’s military is acquiring a slew of new equipment from combat aircraft to submarines and artillery. It is currently finalising a deal with France’s Dassault Aviation to buy 126 Rafale fighter jets in a contract worth an estimated $12 billion. 

Despite a series of political setbacks which exposed the vulnerability of India’s beleaguered regime, it avoided bold reforms in its annual budget to shore up growth and modest targets to rein in a bloated deficit. The government reflects investors’ disappointment with Mukherjee’s half-hearted attack on the worst deficit among the emerging-markets.

However, on November 2 of last year, the United States agreed to sell India the most expensive — new F-35 – fighter jets. In a report to the US Congress, the Pentagon said, “We believe US aircraft such as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)…to be the best in the world”, referring to the radar-evading F-35 jet. The Pentagon indicated that the programme faces rising costs, with a price tag of nearly $150 million each. It also noted that India is working with Russia on developing a fifth-generation fighter aircraft. 

Notably, on November 3, 2011, the CNN TV channel pointed out, “The Pentagon is portraying India as a major customer for US military arsenal…India also decided on a major purchase of US F-16 and F-18 fighters [which] is a reminder of the vast sums in play.”

James Hardy, Asia Pacific Editor of Jane’s Defence Weekly, stated, “With a potential contract price of US$9 billion to US$14 billion, this is the single biggest competition in the global defence aviation industry.”

This is while the Pentagon’s government-to-government program of foreign military sales to India has included C-17 and C-130 aircraft, the Northrop Grumman E-2D, the latest version of the E-2 Hawkeye, aircraft radar systems, Harpoon weapons and specialised tactical equipments. It will cost 232 million dollars.

Besides, America signed a deal on civil energy technology with India in 2008, which lifted sanctions on New Delhi in order to import nuclear technology.

In recent years, India has bought reconnaissance aircraft from US aerospace major Boeing worth 2.1 billion-dollars and medium-range missiles for 1.4 billion dollars from Israeli Aerospace Industries, and signed a contract with the Russian Aircraft Corporation to upgrade its MiG 29 squadrons for 965 million dollars. Several deals are planned for the near future, including one of the largest arms contracts of recent times — an 11-billion-dollar project to acquire 126 multi-role combat aircraft.

As regards New Delhi’s purchases from Israel, India’s The Tribune wrote, “Tel Aviv agreed to share its expertise with India in various fields such as surveillance satellites and space exploration.” With the support of Israel, New Delhi has been acquiring an element of strategic depth by setting up logistical bases in the Indian Ocean for its navy.

Nevertheless, Indian defence expenditures have no bounds. In the past decade, India has spent billions of dollars on purchases of arms, planes, radars and ships from the US, Russia, Britain, Germany, Israel and France along with other western countries.

Over the next 12 years, India is set to spend a whopping US$200 billion on defence acquisitions to replace its outdated inventory. In this respect, on February 15, 2010, a report of a Indian strategic defense magazine (India Strategic’s DefExpo) had pointed out that 70 per cent of the inventory of the Indian armed forces is 20-plus-years-old, and needs to be replaced with modern technology. It explained that nearly half of this funding ($100b) will go to the Indian Air Force (IAF), which would need to replace more than half of its combat jet fleet as well as the entire transport aircraft and helicopter fleet. The army needs new guns, tanks, rocket launchers and multi-terrain vehicles, while the navy needs ships, aircraft carriers and a new range of nuclear submarines.

It is noteworthy that from 1994 to 1997 India’s defence budget was increased from 20 percent to 24.4 percent. In 2009, New Delhi increased its defense budget by a whopping 28.2 percent or Rs 130,000.00 million. Some experts estimate that military spending will increase further, totaling as much as 200 billion dollars over the current period to 2022.

While exposing India’s ambitious defence policy, the Washington-based Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) has revealed in its report of April 2011 that “India’s defence budget has roughly quadrupled (in real terms) since 2001 — reaching $36.3 billion in the 2011–2012 budget — and enabled the implementation of long-term acquisition plans. Of the total defence budget, approximately 40 percent (some $14.5 billion) is allocated to the defence capital outlay budget.” 

In fact, currently, more than half of India’s budget is allocated for the armed forces, but its major portion is being expended on defence purchases and debt servicing, which leaves less than half for everything else including infrastructure development projects, education, healthcare, poverty alleviation, and various human services. New Delhi’s latest arms purchases will leave even less for what India needs most to lift hundreds of millions of its citizens from abject poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease. 

Indian defence analyst Ravinder Pal Singh, while calls New Delhi’s unending defence spending at the cost of poverty alleviation – with security requirements competing with socio-economic concerns for money – a guns-versus-butter question.

In this context, a report of the United Nations pointed out that India ranks 134th out of 182 countries on the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index. It estimated that 50 per cent of the world’s undernourished population lives in India. Nearly 31 per cent of the billion-plus Indians earn less than a dollar a day. 

Secretary General of the Control Arms Foundation of India Binalakshmi Nepram remarks, “When people are dying of poverty and bad sanitation, what protection will arms provide them?”

Indian civil society organisations, while complaining of excessive defence spending on buying, indicated that the defence budget is rapidly increasing every year because of India’s unending defence imports.

While, the world is rapidly moving towards the idea of one world as in the cyber age, states prefer the welfare of their people to the costs of undue defence expenditures. Europe, which learnt a drastic lesson from the two world wars, presents an ideal model by integrating the continent through the European Union. On the other side, despite criticism from various circles, Indian government’s unlimited defence purchases are in full swing.

Ignoring regional problems and the resolution of Indo-Pak issues, especially the thorny dispute of Kashmir, Indian rulers claim that they do not have any aggressive designs. But it becomes a big joke of the 21st century, reminding one of the maxim “armed to the teeth, but no enemy”, if we take cognisance of India’s unlimited defence imports, raising India as the biggest arms recipient in the world.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Categories: Uncategorized

BRICS Can Lead Entire Global South In Quest For Financial Justice

Global Times
March 25, 2012

BRICS can lead whole global South in quest for financial justice
By Swaran Singh

The fourth BRICS Summit, an organization consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, is taking place in New Delhi Thursday. This is the second consecutive BRIC Summit to be held in Asia. The last summit was held in April 2011 in Sanya, China, where BRIC had expanded to include South Africa, making it truly global. Moreover, the solidarity of BRICS leaders has witnessed several other emerging economies showing interest in joining forces with the BRICS to redefine global post-World War II financial institutions, norms and procedures.

The past few years witnessed the exponential growth of several BRICS mechanisms, including meetings of their senior ministers, officials, bankers, academics and experts that involve nearly a dozen sectors from finance to agriculture. This makes BRICS not just an economic union but also an increasingly social and even political forum focused on comprehensive governance issues.

BRICS, however, has been cautious in its membership and in making sure its agenda stays focused on its original mandate of seeking reform of the existing financial institutions. In this regard, successive summits have put forward various proposals and this year’s summit has been preceded by the most elaborate preparations ever, with multiple background negotiations. This fourth summit is now expected to outline some substantive initiatives that will include initiatives for a BRICS Development Bank for South-South Cooperation.

BRICS interlocutors have been working for creating such a single development bank for South-South monetary and financial cooperation. It is projected to facilitate intra-BRICS trade and joint investments and thereby make their growth trajectories far more autonomous of global trends.

This is expected then to strengthen their multilateral union and to elevate their international standing as emerging economic powerhouses, especially with regard to their current marginalized positions in the existing post-World War II global financial institutions.

Today, the BRICS nations are not only the fastest growing economies but also hold the largest amounts of foreign exchange reserves. China currently possesses the biggest foreign exchange reserves in the world, standing at $3.2 trillion. It is followed by Russia with $505 billion, Brazil with $355 billion and India with $307 billion, putting them fourth, sixth and seventh on the list.

By using their reserves and savings for mutual trade and investment in their own currencies, they can promote their domestic currencies. It also reduces the costs of procuring and exchanging in US dollars, which currently entraps nations into being bound by the trends in US financial markets.

But BRICS’ path to such a noble initiative remains ridden with some major obstacles if not pitfalls.

To begin with, given wide differences in their relative size and stature, there could be intra-BRICS suspicions about their preferred models and procedures. Then there is also this sense that the BRICS nations are trying to distance themselves from US dollar, which is the only respected international currency so far.

The Chinese yuan has the biggest chance of achieving international recognition next. BRICS export-import banks, however, have been holding piecemeal negotiations for over two years and are now expected to sign an agreement to promote direct trade and loans in local currencies to reduce reliance on the US dollar and guard against global volatility. Such an agreement will be an important first step in empowering the BRICS Development Bank.

Based on murmurs that were heard during the selection of the last IMF boss, a European as usual, BRICS will also be discussing the on-going search for the next World Bank President, which is still widely expected to go to Jim Yong Kim, an Asian-American academic and physician, in keeping with the tradition of having a US citizen take the role.

The BRICS nations have been demanding an increase in their voting rights at the IMF, but they must not restrict their future noble initiatives to such limited and retrograde motivations and justifications. India’s proposal for rotating governorship of the BRICS Development Bank would be more acceptable and equitable. But BRICS should also work for a Development Bank for the entire global South, including the least developed countries. It is such larger visions that will earn their goodwill and strength as new global leaders.

BRICS should also find strength in earlier such experiments. A Bank of the South (Banco del Sur), has been in existence since 2009 among Latin American countries, including Brazil. Though it has been only a modest attempt for monetary and lending cooperation, with seed money of a mere $20 billion, its presence has created an autonomous space and offers important lessons for evolving an alternative vision with different ideological and procedural orientations.

In terms of their other priorities, infrastructure projects and intra-BRICS trade would benefit all the BRICS members, as these remain well below world standards and have great potential to grow and inject vitality into overall employment and growth in these countries. And a BRICS Development Bank would be a great initiative to lead such a transformation.

The author is a professor with Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Categories: Uncategorized

Be Wary Of The West’s New Global Interventionism

Global Times
March 25, 2012

Be wary of West’s new interventionism
By Xin Jianqiang

====

By using UN Resolution 1973, which allowed the enforcement of a no-fly zone in Libya, the US-led NATO countries launched an array of military attacks, under the slogans of safeguarding humanitarianism and protecting civilians. Libya was a test bed for the new interventionism.

Interventionism, either old or new, is still the same in essence. Both are hegemonic power politics aimed at preserving the strategic interests of the West. The only difference is the latter is harder to recognize.

====

One year ago on March 19, the Western countries started “Operation Odyssey Dawn” against Libya. The war has also set a new example for the West forcing its way into the internal affairs of a sovereign state. The so-called new interventionism has clouded international relations.

The new interventionism is quite deceptive. Compared with traditional interventionism, characterized by direct military invasions, the new interventionism is dressed in a coat of legitimacy. By using UN Resolution 1973, which allowed the enforcement of a no-fly zone in Libya, the US-led NATO countries launched an array of military attacks, under the slogans of safeguarding humanitarianism and protecting civilians. Libya was a test bed for the new interventionism.

What’s more disturbing is that the West has begun to practice the new interventionism in other countries. Syria has become a new target. And the West’s final goal is to overthrow the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Western countries tried to copy the “Libyan model” in Syria, such as putting the Syria issue to the vote on the UN Security Council.

Actually, democracy and freedom are just a disguise for the new interventionism. Interventionism, either old or new, is still the same in essence. Both are hegemonic power politics aimed at preserving the strategic interests of the West. The only difference is the latter is harder to recognize.

No matter how the West justifies its actions, the disasters the new interventionism has brought to the countries involved can never be erased. In Libya, the war caused the death of over 20,000 people and has left tens of thousands homeless. Political reconstruction and economic recovery struggle amid huge difficulties. More than 5,000 separate armed groups have emerged. Separatism seriously threatens the country’s unity. Isn’t this ironic, given the intervention was carried out under the banner of human rights?

The new interventionism has won little support from the international community. The UN Charter highlights sovereignty. It’s widely held that military force or coercion should not be used in international affairs, which is why the “Friends of Syria” have expressed their opposition to military force.

Currently, peace, development and cooperation are still the trend of the times. The new interventionism not only violates the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, but also runs counter to the zeitgeist. We should be on guard against its influence.

The author is a journalist with the Xinhua News Agency.

Categories: Uncategorized

Stop NATO news: March 25, 2012

====

Ottawa: First Joint Meeting Of U.S., Canadian, Mexican Defense Leaders

Clinton Approves $1.3 Billion In Military Aid To Egyptian Junta

Three NATO Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan

Italian Soldier Killed, Five Injured In Afghanistan

NATO Helicopter Violates Pakistani Air Space

U.S. Ambassador-Designate: Georgia To Join NATO, U.S. To Upgrade Military

U.S. Marine Corps Commander Meets Georgian Military Chief, Troops

Eastern Partnership: Georgia Pushes “International Community” To Expel Russian Troops From Abkhazia And South Ossetia

Abkhazia Concerned Over Georgia Creating New Paramilitary Groups

French Defense Delegation Visits Georgia, Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan Doubled Military Production Last Year

NATO MPs In Qatar “Discuss Regional Security”

Turkey To Host “Friends Of Syria” Meeting

Syria: Armenians Fear Results Of Regime Change

EU Foreign Ministers Slap More Sanctions On Belarus, Iran, Syria And Extend Horn Of Africa Naval Deployment

====

Ottawa: First Joint Meeting Of U.S., Canadian, Mexican Defense Leaders

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=67653

U.S. Department of Defense
American Forces Press Service
March 22, 2012

Panetta to Travel to Canada for Defense Meetings

WASHINGTON: Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta will travel to Canada’s capital of Ottawa on March 26 for meetings with Canadian and Mexican defense officials, Pentagon officials said.

Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay will host the meeting, which includes Mexican defense leaders for the first time.

Mexico’s Defense Secretary Gen. Guillermo Galvan and Navy Secretary Adm. Mariano Francisco Saynaz will attend, and all will discuss continental defense initiatives, said Pentagon Press Secretary George Little.

These issues include counternarcotics cooperation, support to humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations and trilateral support for North and South America’s defense institutions, Little said.

Panetta will hold bilateral meetings with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts, then leaders from all three countries will meet for the first Trilateral Meetings of North American Defense Ministers.

====

Clinton Approves $1.3 Billion In Military Aid To Egyptian Junta

http://en.trend.az/regions/met/arabicr/2006382.html

Deutsche Presse-Agentur
March 24, 2012

US approves 1.3 billion dollars military aid to Egypt

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday gave the green light to US military aid to Egypt despite concerns that Cairo was not meeting goals in its democratic transition, dpa reported.

Clinton waived conditions placed on the 1.3-billion-dollars of aid by Congress – that had insisted Egypt meet certain democratic reforms before being granted the funds – saying the move was in the United States’ national interest.

“These decisions reflect America’s over-arching goal: to maintain our strategic partnership with an Egypt made stronger and more stable by a successful transition to democracy,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.

Nuland pointing to progress made in elections, but said the US remained concerned about protection for non-governmental organizations and other issues.

“Egypt’s transition to democracy is not yet complete, and more work remains to protect universal rights and freedoms. The Egyptian people themselves have made this clear to their own leaders,” she said.

====

Three NATO Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan

http://blogs.voanews.com/breaking-news/2012/03/24/3-nato-troops-killed-in-afghanistan-3/

Voice of America News
March 24, 2012

3 NATO Troops Killed in Afghanistan

NATO says three of its service members lost their lives in Afghanistan Saturday.

A NATO statement says one of the soldiers died in a bomb blast in southern Afghanistan, another one in an insurgent attack in the west, and the third one as a result of a non-battle related injury in the east.

The nationalities of the soldiers were not released.

====

Italian Soldier Killed, Five Injured In Afghanistan

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-03/25/c_131487347.htm

Xinhua News Agency
March 25, 2012

One Italian soldier killed, 5 injured in Afghanistan

-Rome has deployed 4,200 forces to Afghanistan as part of the military alliance, and has lost a total number of 49 soldiers in the country since 2004.

             
ROME: Italy’s Defense Minister said on Saturday one Italian soldier with the NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was killed, and five others were injured from a terrorist attack in Afghanistan.

Michele Silvestri, a 33 year-old military who was married with a child, reportedly died due to mortar fire from Taliban fighters at a base in Gulistan district of western Afghan Farah province.

Five wounded soldiers were transported by helicopter to a military field hospital, the ANSA news agency said.

Rome has deployed 4,200 forces to Afghanistan as part of the military alliance, and has lost a total number of 49 soldiers in the country since 2004.

====

NATO Helicopter Violates Pakistani Air Space

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/03/25/news/national/nato-chopper-intrudes-into-khyber-agency-2/

Independent News Pakistan
March 25, 2012

NATO chopper intrudes into Khyber Agency

BARA: A NATO helicopter once again violated Pakistani airspace in the Khyber Agency near border with Afghanistan on Saturday, creating panic in the area.

Sources said the helicopter entered from the Torkham side, and remained in the Pakistani airspace for 10 minutes before returning to Afghanistan.

The low-flying chopper created panic among the tribesmen living along the Pak-Afghan border.

This latest violation of Pakistani airspace by NATO forces comes a couple of days after a parliamentary committee, tasked to prepare recommendations to review terms of engagements with the US, put its recommendations before the joint sitting of the parliament.

Pakistan stopped supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan after NATO/ISAF aircraft attacked Pakistani border posts at Salala in the Mohmand Agency in the last week of November, 2011, and killed 24 troops. The parliamentary committee has demanded a US apology over the incident as a precondition to revive engagement in the war on terror.

====

U.S. Ambassador-Designate: Georgia To Join NATO, U.S. To Upgrade Military

http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=24584

Civil Georgia
March 22, 2012

U.S. Ambassador-Designate to Georgia Lays Out Priorities

====

He stressed the importance of Georgia’s contribution to Afghan operations, where “brave” Georgian soldiers operate without caveats in the Helmand province, noting that Georgia would become the largest non-NATO contributor to ISAF after it deploys an additional battalion in Afghanistan this fall.

Responding to Republican Senator Richard Lugar’s question about Georgia’s NATO integration, the Ambassador-designate said that the Alliance had already declared that Georgia would become a NATO member.

On defense cooperation, the U.S. ambassador-designate said that talks between President Obama and President Saakashvili in the White House in January gave “important impetus” to military relationships and said that the U.S. had approved sale of M4 Carbine assault rifles to Georgia.

He said that during a meeting in Washington the U.S. and Georgian Presidents “agreed to enhance these programs, to advance Georgian military modernization reform and self-defense capabilities.”

“Our plans for security assistance and military engagement with Georgia are to support Georgia’s defense reforms, to train and equip Georgian troops for participation in the ISAF mission and to advance Georgia’s NATO interoperability.”

====

Tbilisi: U.S. Ambassador-designate to Georgia, Richard Norland, outlined priority areas of U.S. cooperation with its “reliable partner”, Georgia, during a nomination hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 21, saying that upcoming elections would be “a very important litmus test” for Georgia’s NATO aspiration.

He said that Georgia had demonstrated itself to be “a reliable partner” on issues like Afghanistan, non-proliferation and trade.

“Of paramount importance, I want to emphasize the United States’ commitment to Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty remains steadfast,” he said. “The United States will continue efforts to persuade Russia to fulfill its 2008 ceasefire obligations…”

“We continue to object to the presence of the Russian troops in the occupied territories and we strongly support Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; these are matters of principle,” he said, adding that the U.S. will continue to be actively engaged in the Geneva talks.

He said that relationship between Georgia’s democratic reforms and its Euro-Atlantic integration was “pivotal”.

“Given Georgia’s interests and Georgia’s aspirations to NATO membership and our support for those aspirations, how these elections are conducted is a very important litmus test and we’ll be watching carefully to make sure that the way these elections unfold are in keeping in NATO standards.”

“The Europe and the United States are closely watching the conduct of these elections to determine whether they meet the criteria that are expected of a NATO-member country,” Norland said.

NATO Integration

He reiterated U.S. support to Georgia’s NATO aspirations and said that the Alliance’s upcoming summit in Chicago would provide an opportunity “to highlight Georgia’s progress towards meeting membership criteria, as well as its significant partnership contributions.”

He stressed the importance of Georgia’s contribution to Afghan operations, where “brave” Georgian soldiers operate without caveats in the Helmand province, noting that Georgia would become the largest non-NATO contributor to ISAF after it deploys an additional battalion in Afghanistan this fall.

Responding to Republican Senator Richard Lugar’s question about Georgia’s NATO integration, the Ambassador-designate said that the Alliance had already declared that Georgia would become a NATO member.

“So the issue really has to do [with] how and when,” Norland said. “There is no single path to NATO membership. As it stands now, I understand, the Annual National Program and the NATO-Georgia [Commission] are the primary mechanisms to which Georgia and the Allies are pursuing the issue of Georgia’s membership.”

He said that “serious efforts” were being undertaken by the U.S. administration to use the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago “to signal acknowledgment for Georgia’s progress…and to work with the Allies to develop a consensus on the next steps forward.”

Defense Cooperation

On defense cooperation, the U.S. ambassador-designate said that talks between President Obama and President Saakashvili in the White House in January gave “important impetus” to military relationships and said that the U.S. had approved sale of M4 Carbine assault rifles to Georgia.

He said that during a meeting in Washington the U.S. and Georgian Presidents “agreed to enhance these programs, to advance Georgian military modernization reform and self-defense capabilities.”

“Sustaining robust bilateral security and defense cooperation with Georgia will also remain a high priority if I am confirmed,” he said.

“Our plans for security assistance and military engagement with Georgia are to support Georgia’s defense reforms, to train and equip Georgian troops for participation in the ISAF mission and to advance Georgia’s NATO interoperability.”

Richard Norland, who is a former U.S. ambassador to Uzbekistan, was nominated by President Obama in February to replace John Bass, who has been serving in Tbilisi since late 2009.

Norland, a 32-year foreign service veteran, briefly served in Georgia in early 1990s in a capacity of the U.S. representative and acting head of the OSCE Mission to Georgia, working on South Ossetia and Abkhazia conflict issues.

Before serving as an ambassador in Uzbekistan in 2007-2010, Norland, who is now international affairs advisor and deputy commandant at the National War College, Washington, D.C., was deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Kabul for two years.

According to the U.S. Department of State, Ambassador Norland has spent much of his career on U.S. relations with Russia and other former Soviet states. He was a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in late 1980s.

He was director for European affairs at the National Security Council for two years during the Clinton and Bush administrations and served as deputy chief of mission in Latvia in 2003-2005.

Ambassador Norland, who speaks Russian, French, Norwegian and Latvian, was a political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin in 1995-1998.

====

U.S. Marine Corps Commander Meets Georgian Military Chief, Troops

http://www.mod.gov.ge/index.php?page=77&lang=1&type=&Id=1341

Ministry of Defence of Georgia
March 23, 2012

The visit of American Commander

Lieutenant General Dennis Hejlik, commander of United States Marine Corps Forces Command ]Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic; Commander, United States Marine Corps Bases Atlantic; Commander, United States Marine Corps Forces Europe] is paying an official two-day visit to Georgia.

Today the US Lieutenant General has met with Deputy Defence Minister Nodar Kharshiladze and Chief of the Joint Staff of the GAF [Georgian Armed Forces] Major-General Devi Chankotadze.

Throughout the meeting the topics of discussion included the GAF`s participation in the ISAF mission, their level of preparedness and achievements and the US-Georgia partnership.

At the meeting the Lieutenant General expressed his appreciation for Georgia’s contribution to the security mission.

Dennis Hejlik also met with and delivered a speech for 23 Battalion military personnel and Georgian instructors at the National Training Center “Krtsanisi”. He referred to the significance of the ISAF mission and the GAF`s participation in it. The 23 Battalion is going through preparation for participation in the NATO-led ISAF operation in Afghanistan.

The Georgian military servicemen will engage in the peacekeeping operation in the province of Helmand as part of the US contingent and replace 31 Battalion currently deployed there. Commander of United States Marine Corps Forces Lieutenant General Dennis Hejlik will leave Georgia on March 24. 

====

Eastern Partnership: Georgia Pushes “International Community” To Expel Russian Troops From Abkhazia And South Ossetia

http://en.trend.az/regions/scaucasus/georgia/2006249.html

Trend News Agency
March 23, 2012

Georgia urges Int’l community to strengthen pressure on Russia
N. Kirtzkhalia

Eastern Partnership: The West’s Final Assault On the Former Soviet Union

Tbilisi: Georgia’s Vice-Premier Georgi Baramidze urged the international community to strengthen pressure on Russia, according to his Friday message to the “Eastern Partnership” participants.

Tbilisi is hosting the EU “Eastern Partnership” forum, which started on Friday in Georgia under the auspices of the State Minister for European Integration and the Polish Institute for the Study of the East.

The forum is being attended by representatives of legislative and executive authorities of the Member States and the countries of “Eastern Partnership” (Georgia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, Ukraine), as well as NGOs, international media, business community and independent experts.

Baramidze…underscored that Russia must fulfill the commitments made after the Georgian-Russian war, and withdraw its forces from all Georgian territory.

“The international community must play an important role in this, and it should force Russia to begin the process of de-occupation peacefully”.

====

Abkhazia Concerned Over Georgia Creating New Paramilitary Groups

http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=24588

Civil Georgia
March 23, 2012

Sokhumi Says ‘Concerned over Allegations on Paramilitary Groups’

Tbilisi: Seizing upon allegations voiced by opposition figure Irakli Alasania, who has accused Georgian authorities of setting up paramilitary groups, the foreign ministry of breakaway Abkhazia said on March 23, that Tbilisi was “continuing a policy of terror and intimidation.”

“The Abkhaz side expresses deep concern in connection to media reports about statements of one of the Georgian opposition leaders, Irakli Alasania, who has accused the Georgian leadership of creating illegal militia groups, deployed in the immediate vicinity of the Abkhaz border” in the Samegrelo region, the breakaway region’s foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.

“The setting up of such armed groups confirms the persisting aspiration of the Georgian leadership to continue its policy of terror and intimidation both within Georgia itself and in the bordering Gali district of Abkhazia. Undoubtedly, actions by these armed groups will contribute to the further aggravation of the situation in the region,” it said.

It has also claimed that a “significantly increased number” of security-related incidents in the Gali district was a result of Tbilisi “using illegal armed groups for aggravating tensions.”

The breakaway region’s foreign ministry also called on participants of the Geneva talks, as well as the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia, “to take necessary measures to prevent the escalation of tensions in the border areas.”

Irakli Alasania, one of the leaders of Bidzina Ivanishvili-led opposition coalition said on March 20 that he was sending evidence supporting his allegations about authorities setting up paramilitary groups to the National Security Council for review and reaction. He also said that the evidence involved “full information about places of location of the paramilitary groups, about their members, about armament and finances.”

Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, said on March 23, that Alasania’s allegation was “schizophrenic delirium.”

====

French Defense Delegation Visits Georgia, Azerbaijan

http://www.mod.gov.ge/index.php?page=77&lang=1&type=&Id=1342

Ministry of Defence of Georgia
March 24, 2012

The visit of French delegation

Deputy Defence Minister Nodar Kharshiladze has received a delegation from the French National Defence Institute composed of 37 attendees today.

Throughout the meeting held at the MoD the sides discussed reforms implemented in the defence and security spheres, Georgia’s NATO integration prospects, involvement in the ISAF mission and regional security issues. 

Within the visit the French delegation visited the National Defence Academy in Gori.  

At the meeting, attended by Command and General Staff School representatives, Academy Rector Andro Barnovi briefed [the guests] on the military education system. The sides also focused on cooperation perspectives in the education field. 

As part of the visit, French students inspected the Krtsanisi National Training Center to take a view of the training process of 23rd Infantry Battalion personnel of the II Infantry Brigade getting ready for participation in the ISAF mission. 

The goal of the French delegation’s visit in Georgia is become familiar with the military-political environment prevailing in the South Caucasus region. 

During their stay in Georgia, French attendees met with Deputy Foreign Minister Tornike Gordadze and Deputy Secretary of National Security Council Batu Kutelia. The delegation was also hosted by representatives of Foreign Relations, European Integration and Defence and Security Committees in the Parliament of Georgia. 

The French delegation will leave for Azerbaijan tomorrow. 

====

Azerbaijan Doubled Military Production Last Year

http://www.news.az/articles/economy/56755

News.Az
March 16, 2012

Azerbaijan doubled production of military industrial complex – speaker

The economy of Azerbaijan continued to increase in 2011 in terms of the global economic crisis.

Speaker of the Azerbaijani Parliament Ogtay Asadov made the statement to a session on the report of the Azerbaijani government for 2011.

….

‘Given the state of war, the country holds the development of the defence sector as the center of attention. In comparison with 2010, the country doubled the production of the military industry complex in 2011. In 2011, 1.7 times more financial funds were allocated to all of this against 2010,’ the speaker said.

====

NATO MPs In Qatar “Discuss Regional Security”

http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=494902&version=1&template_id=36&parent_id=16

Gulf Times
March 24, 201

Nato parliamentarians discuss regional security

-David Crausby, a Nato Parliamentarian from the United Kingdom, wanted to understand the effect of a potential US or Israeli strike on Iran.
Salman Shaikh of Brookings Doha posited that the threshold for US intervention has always been the acquisition of a nuclear weapon by Iran.
This threshold, he continued, has shifted to the capability side, increasingly resembling the Israeli stance.

Nato Parliamentarians from 13 member-states convened in Doha for a three-day briefing on Security and Stability in the Gulf Region organised by Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar (SFS-Q).

Representing countries including Portugal, Germany and Norway, among others, the Nato Parliamentarians were privy to a nearly two-hour question and answer session featuring SFS-Q subject matter experts (SMEs) Amira A. Sonbol, Gary B. Wasserman, Mark Farha, Birol Baskan and colleagues from Brookings Doha, Director Salman Shaikh, and the Royal United Services Institute in Qatar (RUSIQ), Deputy Director David Roberts.

Tackling the topic of security and stability in the Gulf region, Salman Shaikh began by stating that Gulf monarchies have deflected the Arab Spring through massive social spending. He questioned the sustainability of this approach, arguing that the viability of the current social contract in the Gulf is in need of urgent modernisation.

The ramifications of increased energy exports to India and China for the security of the Gulf region was considered by many members of the Q&A session, with a consensus that there is a shift in strategic focus, from the point of view of the United States, away from the Middle East and towards the Far East.

David Crausby, a Nato Parliamentarian from the United Kingdom, wanted to understand the effect of a potential US or Israeli strike on Iran.

Salman Shaikh of Brookings Doha posited that the threshold for US intervention has always been the acquisition of a nuclear weapon by Iran.

This threshold, he continued, has shifted to the capability side, increasingly resembling the Israeli stance.

Such a move, according to Shaikh, could spark a wide regional conflict and inflict severe economic consequences.

..

José Lello, a Nato Parliamentarian from Portugal inquired into Qatar’s provisional plans for the closing of the Strait of Hormuz and the rationale behind the escalatory rhetoric emerging from the region. In response, Farha warned that loose talk of war could open the door for provocations and secret covert operations.

====

Turkey To Host “Friends Of Syria” Meeting

http://en.trend.az/regions/met/arabicr/2006165.html

Trend News Agency
March 23, 2012

Syria opposition to prepare for ‘Friends of Syria’ meeting

Various factions of the Syrian opposition will meet early next week in Istanbul to coordinate their requests for support prior to the second conference of “Friends of Syria” on 1 April, Ahram Online reported.

“The goal is to prepare for the conference of ‘Friends of Syria’,” Halit Hoca, a member of the main opponent group Syrian National Council, told AFP Thursday.

He also said that the gathering was likely to be closed to the press.

The meeting of the Syrian opposition comes amid difficulties in forming a united front, with the resignation on 14 March of three members from the SNC, followed by the creation of a new coalition of five small opposition groups three days later.

The first meeting of the “Friends of Syria” was held in Tunis in late February, with participation from around 60 countries, including Western and Arab nations.

====

Syria: Armenians Fear Results Of Regime Change

http://www.panarmenian.net/eng/news/100234/

PanArmenian.net
March 24, 2012

Expert: Assad’s regime preferable for Armenians

The maintenance of current President Bashar al-Assad’s power is preferable for the Armenian community in Syria, according to the Arabist Armen Petrsoyan.

“From the political perspective, Assad’s regime is preferable to that of the Muslim Brotherhood with uncertain prospects through Turkish backing,” he said.

The expert further voiced hope for the Syrian authorities to control the situation and avert development of a dangerous political scenario.

====

EU Foreign Ministers Slap More Sanctions On Belarus, Iran, Syria And Extend Horn Of Africa Naval Deployment

http://en.trend.az/regions/iran/2006307.html

Deutsche Presse-Agentur
March 23, 2012

EU foreign ministers to slap more sanctions on Syria, Belarus, Iran

European Union foreign ministers were set Friday to approve more sanctions against Syria, Belarus and Iran, and expand an anti-piracy mission in Somalia, dpa reported.

[The] ministers were expected to add 12 [Syrian] officials and 2 companies to an EU visa ban and asset freeze list, EU diplomats said.

“Today you will see significant tightening of the sanctions. We have 12 names on the table,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told journalists before the meeting.

Similar sanctions were planned against 29 Belarus companies and 12 businessmen backing President Aleksandr Lukashenko…sources added.

Ministers were also expected to discuss whether EU ambassadors – withdrawn from Minsk last month in a diplomatic tit-for-tat – should return to the country.

On Iran, EU governments were finalizing regulations putting into practice an earlier decision to apply an oil embargo against the country, effective from July 1…

On Friday, ministers were also expected to tighten a parallel set of EU sanctions on Iran linked to the country’s human rights violations, several diplomats said.

Eighteen more officials will be added to an existing travel ban and asset freeze list, currently covering 61 persons, while a ban will be introduced on exports of electronic material that may be used to intercept telephone and internet communications.

On Somalia, ministers were set to approve the idea of expanding the anti-piracy mission Atalanta in the Gulf of Aden…The move was discussed Thursday by EU defence ministers.

====

Categories: Uncategorized

Interview: The Current Global War Cycle

Progressive Radio Network
March 24, 2012

Host: Stephen Lendman

Guest: Rick Rozoff

Rozoff’s an activist, anti-war supporter, and editor of the website Stop NATO, which ”document(s) and oppose(s) global militarist trends and an expanding theater of war that began” by balkanizing Yugoslavia in the 1990s. It then expanded to South Asia, and now ravages the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.”

Major world and national issues will be discussed.

Erratum: For Southeast Asia read Southeast Europe

Interview:

http://prn.fm/2012/03/24/podcast-progressive-radio-news-hour-32412/#

Categories: Uncategorized

Thirteenth Anniversary Of NATO As Global War Machine

Emg.rs
March 24, 2012

Nis pays tribute to bombing victims


NATO victim in Nis (Reuters)


NATO bombing victim in Nis


NATO cluster bomb victim in Nis

Wreaths were laid at memorials Saturday as a tribute paid to the victims of the 1999 NATO bombing in the city of Nis, southern Serbia, where 56 people were killed and over 200 were injured in 78 days of NATO air raids.

Wreaths were laid at memorials Saturday as a tribute paid to the victims of the 1999 NATO bombing in the city of Nis, southern Serbia, where 56 people were killed and over 200 were injured in 78 days of NATO air raids.

The wreaths were laid at the monument in front of the Nis University building by families of the victims, city officials, representatives of the Serbian Armed Forces, delegations of war veterans’ associations, and organizations for preserving the tradition of liberation wars.

A commemoration was also held in Mija Stanimirovic barracks at the monument to fallen soldiers.

The sirens marking the approaching of NATO aircrafts went off a total of 129 times from March 24 until the end of the bombing, and Nis inhabitants spent 52 days in shelters. In 78 days, Nis was bombed 40 times, 28 times at night and 12 during the day.

A total of 324 missiles were fired on the city, including 161 aerial bombs, 36 containers of cluster bombs, 71 cruise missiles and 8 graphite bombs.

About 120 buildings were razed to the ground, while 3,400 housing, business and military facilities were damaged.

On May 7, 1999 only, 15 Nis citizens were killed and several dozens were injured. The target was the city market place.

Nis was again under cluster bomb attack on May 12, 1999, when no one was injured, but people were later killed from unexploded bombs.

—————————————————————————-

Tanjug News Agency
March 24, 2012

“Bombing was aimed at creating independent Kosovo”

BELGRADE: Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dačić stated Saturday that it was now clear that the NATO bombing in 1999 was aimed at creating an independent state of Kosovo.

At the marking of the anniversary of the bombing at the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit (SAJ) base, he said that 2,500 people were killed during the intervention, including more than 1,000 members of the police and military.

“Had it not been for ‘Merciful Angel’, Serbia would have been richer by 2,500 citizens. This location, as well as many others, was constantly bombed. A total of 162 families lost their dearest ones who died as police officers: 38 police officers were killed in the bombing, and 131 of them in terrorist attacks by Albanian separatists,” Dačić underlined.

The interior minster laid a wreath as a tribute to the fallen SAJ members.

He pointed out that the state’s obligation was to determine as soon as possible the exact number of victims during the three-month attack.

Dačić noted added that 484 police members were severely or slightly injured in terrorist operations and another 171 in the NATO bombing.

Categories: Uncategorized

Mali Coup Led By U.S. Africa Command-Trained Officer

March 24, 2012 1 comment

RT
March 24, 2012

Mali coup led by US-trained captain

Mali: U.S. Africa Command’s New War?

Africa: Battleground For NATO’s 21st Century Strategic Concept

From Ivory Coast To Libya And Beyond: Africa Threatened With Western Military Subjugation


U.S.-led Operation Flintlock exercise in Mali

A US Africa Command official confirmed on Friday the leader of military coup d’état in Mali has visited the US on several occasions, receiving professional military education.

Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo participated in the America’s International Military Education and Training program, sponsored by the US State Department, Public Affairs representative Patrick Barnes revealed to The Washington Post.

Foreign officers are handpicked for the program by US embassies in respective countries. The Malian army is very small, consisting of only 7,000 personnel. With the given small number of officers in this army, it is no wonder that Sanogo had a good chance to get to the US.

On March 22, just a month before a presidential election in the country, Sanogo and soldiers loyal to him stormed the presidential palace in the capital Bamako and overthrew President Amadou Toumani Toure.

The reason for the rebellion was stated as the existing leadership’s relaxed attitude towards Touareg tribes’ insurrection in this north-western African country.

The coup claimed three lives, leaving about 40 wounded.

The rebel soldiers are currently busy looting throughout the city of Bamako.
Despite condemning the coup, the US is not planning to reconsider its $140-million aid program to Mali in 2012.

Conversely, on Friday the African Union suspended Mali’s membership of that organization.

Categories: Uncategorized

NATO War On Yugoslavia: DU Bombs Still Claim Lives 13 Years After

March 24, 2012 3 comments

Allvoices
March 24, 2012

Serbia Marks 13th Anniversary of NATO Agression, DU Bombs Still Claim Lives
By Ljubica Vujadinovic

Belgrade: Today marks the 13th anniversary of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. In the 78-day long aggression, which involved 19 NATO states, 3,500 people were killed and more than 12,500 injured.

The operation, led by the US and UK, which was conducted without UN Security Council approval, was meant to force Serbian forces out of Kosovo and protect Albanian civilians in the province. However, the bombing of the whole Serbian territory, especially intensive in Kosovo, resulted in 2,500 civilians deaths, including 79 children. Kosovo Albanians accounted more than half of the casualties.

Infrastructure, schools, institutions buildings, and many residential areas were destroyed all over the country. The material damage of the NATO campaign has been assessed between $30 million and $100 million.

The NATO campaign ended in June 1999 when Serbian forces withdrew from Kosovo, and the province was put under interim UN administration. Nine years later, in February 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia.

Meanwhile, around 1,500 Serbs in the province were killed, more than 1,500 were kidnapped or went missing, and 250,000 Serbs were forced to leave.

Depleted Uranium: NATO Bombs Remain Deadly

Meanwhile, 13 years after the bombing Serbia still struggles with the contamination from ammunitions containing depleted uranium.

In the Vranje area, which is surrounded by four known DU contaminated locations, there has been an enormous increase in cancer rates – from 185 in the year 2000 to 398 new diagnosis in 2006, and a large number of newborns with genetic malformations.

“In 1998, 21 children were born with deformities. In 2008 there were 73,” Nela Cvetkovic, a Member of the Vranje City Council, said. The number of newborn didn’t change, it is about 800-1000 babies per year, she added.

At the same time in Kosovo, Doctor Nebojsa Srbljak, who researches the health consequences of the bombing on civil population, accused NATO of using so-called dirty bombs.

“We first started researching when we found traces of Iodine 131 in the tissue extracted from one patient,” he said, adding that Iodine 131, also known as radio iodine, is well known as a major factor in the negative health consequences of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl.

In Kosovo, foreign personnel has been warned to stay clear of those areas unless equipped with full radiological protective clothing. But no one warned civilians.

“We, the doctors know what it is; politicians are silent to please their mentors. But the people are in the worst position as there are new cancer cases among young persons every day,” said doctor Srbljak, adding that the data on health statistics of Albanian population is completely unavailable.

Ljubica Vujadinovic is based in Novi Sad, Vojvodina, Serbia, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.

Categories: Uncategorized

Thirteen Years Later: NATO Conducts Mopping Up Operations In Balkans

Voice of Russia
March 24, 2012

Does Serbia remember NATO bombings?
Yelena Guskova, PhD (history), the head of the Centre for Analysing Contemporary Balkan Crisis at the Institute of Slavonic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences

====

Serbia remained the only Balkan country which did not seek to join NATO.

The Americans allocate money to train journalists, offer special grants for the radio and TV, write articles for major national newspapers and pay for creating a positive image of NATO in the media.

Their main aim is to estrange Serbia and Montenegro from Russia, to guarantee the inviolability of all existing and potential military bases in the Balkans and to acquire brave and disciplined soldiers for the alliance’s dirtiest and most dangerous operations all over the world.

[I]f Balkan countries join NATO, all of them, including Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Republica Srpska within Bosnia and Herzegovina, will have to take an anti-Russian position.

====

On the 24th of March 13 years ago, a spate of NATO bombs was dropped on a peaceful European country. The March-June 1999 aggression against Yugoslavia, which was justified by the alliance’s concern for the plight of the allegedly deprived Albanian population of Kosovo and Metohija, lasted for 78 days.

Taking care of Albanians was only a pretext. In reality, it was a cruel punishment of Belgrade which refused to cooperate with NATO, waive its sovereignty and replace long-term leader Slobodan Milosevic.

The NATO aggression did not succeed in overthrowing Slobodan Milosevic and the Yugoslavian army also remained intact. The US had to develop a new strategy which worked excellently. In October 2000, the US and Germany carried out a special operation, later used in other countries and named a ‘colour revolution’.

As a result, power went to the hands of people who began to actively cooperate with NATO. However, Yugoslavia had no plans of joining NATO at that time. Moreover, speaking in Munich in 2010, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic declared that Serbia would remain neutral and would not join any military or defence unions. Thus, Serbia remained the only Balkan country which did not seek to join NATO.

On the whole, the Serbian people do not support the idea of joining the alliance and Montenegro shares this opinion. However, the government of Montenegro, which seceded from Serbia in 2006, openly says that there is no alternative to joining NATO.

Serbia is still keeping its own counsel on this issue, even though US ambassador to Belgrade Mary Warlick declared as early as 2010 that NATO always kept an open door for Serbia. What will Serbia decide to do?

A propaganda campaign for joining NATO has been launched in the country. Defence Minister Dragan Sutanovac has begun army reforms based on NATO standards with the aim of subsequent joining that organisation.

The US is sparing no effort in helping to build a different image of NATO in Serbian society. The Americans allocate money to train journalists, offer special grants for the radio and TV, write articles for major national newspapers and pay for creating a positive image of NATO in the media.

Why are they doing it? Their main aim is to estrange Serbia and Montenegro from Russia, to guarantee the inviolability of all existing and potential military bases in the Balkans and to acquire brave and disciplined soldiers for the alliance’s dirtiest and most dangerous operations all over the world.

For Russia, NATO is a potentially dangerous organization which threatens the country’s national interests. Speaking about the main external dangers, President Dmitry Medvedev mentioned the ‘striving to combine the NATO military potential with global functions carried out with the violation of the international law and to bring the military infrastructure of NATO member-states nearer to Russian frontiers by way of expanding the bloc.’

For this reason, if Balkan countries join NATO, all of them, including Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Republica Srpska within Bosnia and Herzegovina, will have to take an anti-Russian position.

Categories: Uncategorized

Protest: Thousands Of Filipino Lives Threatened By U.S.-NATO Wars

Bulatlat
March 20, 2012

Flor Contemplacion’s death anniversary marked with rally vs US-NATO wars of aggression
By Anne Marxze D. Umil

====

“We are deeply saddened by the death of our fellow Filipino in Syria. We condemn the escalating violence being instigated and aggravated by US-Nato troops and rebels funded by imperialist forces. It is high time that the Aquino regime revises its foreign policy of staunch support for US wars of aggression and the deployment of US troops.”

Meran Prieria Montezor, 23, from Camarines Sur was reportedly killed in an ambush by armed gangs in Homs, Syria on Feb. 24. Montezor was killed along with her employer’s children by unidentified gunmen who opened fire on the car they were riding.

The women OFWs repatriated from Syria also joined the protest rally last Saturday. They called on US-Nato forces to get out of Syria, fearing for the lives of OFWs who are still there.

“Our government’s support for the US wars of aggression and deployment of troops continues to endanger the lives of thousands and thousands of Filipinos in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Iraq and wherever else they would want to strike.”

====

MANILA: Members of the global alliance of Migrant Filipinos, Migrante International, marked the 17-year death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion with a protest action held on March 17 at the Chino Roces Bridge (former Mendiola Bridge). This time, they are protesting against the US wars of aggression and deployment of troops in the Asia Pacific region, including the Philippines.

Flor Contemplacion was an overseas Filipino who was sentenced to die in Singapore in 1995 for allegedly killing a fellow Filipino domestic helper.

The OFW and their families marched along Recto to Chino Roces bridge. They also condemned President Benigno S. Aquino III’s puppetry and subservience to US dictates on the country’s political and economic affairs as it endangers the lives of migrant workers and Filipinos as well.

“Seventeen years have passed since Flor was executed in Singapore. However, many Filipino migrant workers abroad are still on death row despite the Magna Carta for Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos, which is supposed to protect migrant workers,” said Gina Esguerra, secretary general of Migrante International.

The Magna Carta for Migrant Workers and and Overseas Filipinos or the Republic Act 8042 institutes policies for the promotion and protection of the welfare of migrant workers, their families and overseas Filipinos. It was enacted in June 1995, several months after Contemplacion’s execution. However, Esguerra said several administrations have passed and OFWs are still at risk not only in the hands of their employers but also in the raging wars in countries like the Middle East and North Africa where several Filipina OFWs are working.

“The protection is just on paper, but in reality the government does not protect OFWs and the services got worse. Labor export is more intensified under the present administration because the remittances of OFWs contribute to the country’s economy. The government has forsaken the lives of OFWs in exchange for remittances,” she added.

According to a press release of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, overseas Filipino workers sent home $1.6 billion in January, 5.4 percent higher than in the same month last year.

US-Nato wars of aggression

The group calls for a stop to US-Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) wars of aggression in war-torn countries like in Syria as it endangers the lives of 17,000 Filipino migrant workers in the said country. In a news report, the US is planning to intervene in Syria.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of our fellow Filipino in Syria. We condemn the escalating violence being instigated and aggravated by US-Nato troops and rebels funded by imperialist forces. It is high time that the Aquino regime revises its foreign policy of staunch support for US wars of aggression and the deployment of US troops,” Martinez said.

Meran Prieria Montezor, 23, from Camarines Sur was reportedly killed in an ambush by armed gangs in Homs, Syria on Feb. 24. Montezor was killed along with her employer’s children by unidentified gunmen who opened fire on the car they were riding.

The women OFWs repatriated from Syria also joined the protest rally last Saturday. They called on US-Nato forces to get out of Syria, fearing for the lives of OFWs who are still there. The OFWs who recently formed an alliance called “OFW Survivors from Syria” recounted their traumatic experiences in war-torn Syria and criticized the Philippine government’s slow action and lack of system in its repatriation efforts in Syria.

Martinez said that as they continue to call for more active and systematic repatriation efforts, they are also calling on the Aquino administration to take a position condemning the impending US-Nato military intervention in Syria.

“Our government’s support for the US wars of aggression and deployment of troops continues to endanger the lives of thousands and thousands of Filipinos in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Iraq and wherever else they would want to strike,” he added.

‘Jobs in the Philippines, not outside of the country’

“Could there have been jobs in the country, no Filipino will go abroad, no family will be broken, no children will be left by their mothers,” said Akrima Maguit, spokeswoman of Migrante-Moro.

The lack of jobs in the country and land to till in rural areas, said Maguit, are the reasons why Filipinos go abroad to work. She also blamed the militarization in Mindanao that displaces families from their own land which resulted to dire poverty of their families as soldiers have destroyed their houses as well as their peaceful lives.

“If the government is sincere, it could have created jobs for the people. But the government does not give jobs because they are making profits out of OFWs sweat and blood,” national president of Courage, Ferdinad Gaite said in the protest rally in Mendiola. Gaite criticized the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration or OWWA for charging costly fees.

Elmer Labog, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) chairman said low salaries also force Filipinos to work abroad. “Minimum wage in National Capital Region is pegged at P404 ($9.61) and P200 plus ($4.7) in the provinces, yet the prices of basic commodities are continuously increasing as well as oil prices. How can Filipino survive with a measly salary?”

Martinez on the other hand further criticized the Aquino administration’s continuous intensification of its labor export policy despite escalating violence and conflicts in the Middle East-North Africa region and the worsening global economic crisis.

“Nothing short of the reversal of the present system will put and end to forced migration. Past and present experiences have revealed the bankruptcy of the labor export policy. What the Aquino administration needs to address is genuine land reform and national industrialization so that Filipinos do not have to leave their families and homeland at great risks and difficulties abroad,” Martinez said.

There are already some 12 million Filipino workers around the world, Migrante said. An estimated 4,500 OFWs leave daily to work abroad.

“For as long as there is landlessness, no domestic jobs are available, and prices continue to soar sky-high, Filipinos will be forced to seek employment abroad despite the ongoing global economic crisis that continues to displace thousands of OFWs or place them on imminent danger of war. It’s a never-ending vicious cycle that will only end if fundamental reforms are in place,” Martinez added.

Categories: Uncategorized

United States: Wars For “Democracy” Abroad, Totalitarian Police State At Home

March 24, 2012 1 comment

Voice of Russia
March 23, 2012

No more photos of Brooklyn Bridge
Boris Volkhonsky

====

[I]t has been demonstrated on too many occasions that U.S. “lawlessness and disorder” agencies care little about civil liberties and the notorious “human rights” the U.S. is ready to protect with all its military might in any country which is not eager to follow Washington-set guidelines. Unlimited detention and torture of detainees in prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, authorization of extrajudicial killings of U.S. citizens abroad, equating people who simply exercise their rights granted by the First Amendment with terrorists, etc., are all well-known examples that hardly need any further elaboration.

====

On Thursday, U.S. Attorney-General Eric H. Holder Jr. made one more important step in his efforts aimed at openly demonstrating the nature of a totalitarian police state the U.S. has been turning into for years.

As reported by The Washington Post, Mr. Holder approved new guidelines that allow counterterrorism officials to lengthen the period of time they retain information about U.S. residents, even if they have no known connections to terrorism. The changes allow the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), the intelligence community’s clearinghouse for terrorism data, to keep information for up to five years. Previously, the center was required to promptly destroy – generally within 180 days – any information about U.S. citizens or residents unless a connection to terrorism was evident.

The old guidelines were “very limiting,” said Robert S. Litt, the general counsel in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “On Day One, you may look at something and think that it has nothing to do with terrorism. Then six months later, all of a sudden, it becomes relevant.”

The guidelines have prompted concern from civil liberties advocates. “Watering down those rules raises significant concerns that Americans are being targeted or swept up in these collection programs and can be harmed by continuing investigations for as long as these agencies hold their data,” said the American Civil Liberties Union’s national security policy counsel, Michael German.

In fact, it has been demonstrated on too many occasions that U.S. “lawlessness and disorder” agencies care little about civil liberties and the notorious “human rights” the U.S. is ready to protect with all its military might in any country which is not eager to follow Washington-set guidelines. Unlimited detention and torture of detainees in prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, authorization of extrajudicial killings of U.S. citizens abroad, equating people who simply exercise their rights granted by the First Amendment with terrorists, etc., are all well-known examples that hardly need any further elaboration.

Against such a background, simple interference in Americans’ privacy and the humble objections posed by civil liberties advocates hardly matter much. What is privacy, when Big Brother is watching you?

U.S. lawlessness enforcement was quick in implementing the guidelines even before they were announced.

On Thursday, testifying before the House of Representative’s Homeland Security Committee, the New York Police Department’s director of intelligence analysis Mitchell Silber said that at least 13 suspects with ties to the Iranian government had been questioned by authorities in the last seven years after conducting surveillance of possible attack sites.

The suspects, he said, included six people on a sightseeing cruise who were taking photographs and videos of well-known New York landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge in 2005.

This probably explains why U.S. authorities decided to retain information on people’s suspicious behavior for five years instead of 180 days. Now imagine that you are a tourist from a neutral country on a holiday visit to the U.S. You take a boat trip over the East River and take photos of all landmarks, including the Brooklyn Bridge.

This, according to Robert Litt, is “Day One” when “you look at something and think that it has nothing to do with terrorism.” But time passes, and the U.S. turns the one-time neutral state into its opponent. Then, following the above logic, “all of a sudden, it becomes relevant.”

In fact is that, before the recent turn in U.S. policies towards Iran, Tehran had never been accused of plotting any terrorist attacks anywhere. But recent developments unearthed a lot of accusations (dubiously grounded) against Iran plotting to kill this or that ambassador, or planning to attack this or that ethnic community. So, the photos of the Brooklyn Bridge taken back in 2005 constitute significant evidence of malignant activity.

So, one should be very careful while trying to take pictures on a sightseeing trip. Who knows what might come to the minds of U.S. policemen in five years?

Boris Volkhonsky, senior research fellow, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies

Categories: Uncategorized
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 498 other followers